Strongly Celestial

Looking outward; looking backward in time...


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M63 - Sunflower Galaxy

History / Fun Facts

M63, known as the Sunflower due to its apperance, was first discovered by Messier's assistant Pierre Mechain on June 14, 1779. It was one of the first galaxies identified as having a spiral structure by Lord Rosse in the mid-1800's. It's distance from Earth is of some debate, but it is most commonly believed to be 37M lightyears away. It isapproximately 90,000 lightyear in diameter, giving it an apparent size of 12'.6 x 7'.2 in the sky. It is a part of the M51 group of interacting galaxies.

At the center of this galaxy is believed to be a super massive black hole, estamiated to be 30 million solar masses. Although the spiral structure appears regular at first glance, detailed studies have shown a pronounced asymmetry in the structure. Further, there are large portions of active star forming regions along the spirals. And the arms themselves extend unusually far from the galactic core. These facts all add up to strong evidence that M63 has fairly recently interacted with and "absorbed" a neighboring satellite galaxy.

Date Taken: 1/15/2014

Telescope T11 - network (New Mexico)
Planewave 20" CDK

Processing / Comments
This was a "quick and dirty" imaging run taken on a remote telescope located in New Mexico. There happened to be a small gap available between two other users, so I grabbed it and shot 3x 5min luminence followed by 1 each 5 min RGB. All were then processed and stacked in CCD stack. A (very) small amount of post-processing in PhotoShop was used to finalize this image. Of particular note: this was shot on a night when the moon was 97% full... just had to be careful to stay clear of it!