The Starburst Galaxy M 82 processed as an HaLRGB image

Click here for a full resolution HaLRGB image of M 82 (733 Kb)

Click here to see a standard LRGB image of M 82 (489 Kb)



The Details
M 82 The Starburst Galaxy in Ursa Major - HaLRGB image
12.5" RCOS Ritchey-Chretien @ f/6.9
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Tru-Balance HaLRGB filter set
27 and 28 March/04 and 04 April 2009
Mount Wilson Observatory - Mount Wilson, CA
L 20 x 600 sec 1x1 bin (3 hours 20minutes)
Ha 15 x 1800 sec 1x1 bin (7.5 hours)
RGB 4 x 600 sec, 1x1bin (2 hours)
Maxim DL/CCD, CCDStack, Photoshop CS4
Field of View: 18'15"' x 12'14" centered on RA 09h55m49s
DEC+69°40’51” (2000.0) . North angle 277.2°; east 90° CCW from north

This irregular galaxy in Ursa Major suffers from severe core distortion as a result of interaction with its nearby neighbor M 81. The distance between the centers of the two interacting galaxies is a mere 130,000 light years, with the pair being about 11 million light years from Earth. About 100 million years ago tidal forces caused by the gravitational attraction of neighboring M 81 triggered an intense region of starbirth in M 82, tearing off the arms of this former spiral galaxy and unleashing a frenzy of star generation within its core. The birth of supermassive, short-lived stars gave rise to intense stellar winds and the spectacular demise of these giants in the form of supernovae explosions, providing the driving force for the plumes and filaments of hydrogen gas (red feature in above image) blasting out from the central region of the galaxy. These filaments extend outward for a staggering distance of nearly 10,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. Brown obscuring dust can also be seen entrained in this high velocity flow of gas emanating from the core area.

The total exposure time for the above HaLRGB image was 12 hours and 30 minutes. A total of 7 hours and 30 minutes of H-alpha data was collected and blended with an LRGB of the galaxy to enhance the reddish plumes of ionized hydrogen gas blasting outward from the core.

This image was featured in the Gallery section of the August 2009 issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine.




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