M81 + M82 = M163

 

M82 (L) and M81 (R)

Telescope: 16″ f3.75 Dream Scope
Camera: FLI ML16803
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure: 13 hours (24x300s Ha + 62x300s L + 3x24x300s RGB)
Date: November 2017
Location: Southern Alps, France

The Field of View of my imaging setup is just right to have these two galaxies nicely fit into the frame. Messier 81 (right) and Messier 82 (left) are part of the M81 Group, a group of 34 galaxies in Ursa Major and Camelopardalis constellations. Due to the distance of approximately 12M light years from Earth, this group together with the Local Group (containing the Milky Way) are relative neighbors in the Virgo Supercluster. M81 is a grand spiral galaxy with a very active nucleus, “hosting” a super-massive black hole with a mass of around 70 million times the mass of our Sun. Bottom right of M81 we can see its companion, the dwarf irregular galaxy Holmberg IX. M82, sometimes called the Cigar galaxy due to it’s edge on view from Earth, is the brightest galaxy in the night sky in infrared light, being a lot brighter in infrared than in the visible part of the spectrum. M82 is famous for its heavy star forming activity and the outburst of ionized hydrogen that can be seen in this photo as jets almost perpendicular to the galaxy disk. Also on this picture is the IFN. The Integrated Flux Nebula is a relatively recently identified astronomical phenomenon. In contrast to the typical and well known gaseous nebulas within the plane of the Milky Way galaxy, IFNs lie beyond the main body of the galaxy. These high galactic latitude nebulae are illuminated not by a single star (as most nebula in the plane of the Galaxy are) but by the energy from the integrated flux of all the stars in the Milky Way. These nebulae clouds, an important component of the Interstellar Medium, are composed of dust particles, hydrogen and carbon monoxide and other elements.

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