Astronomy Picture of the Day: October 6th, 2011

Also known as the Cigar Galaxy for its elongated visual appearance, M82 is a starburst galaxy with a superwind. In fact, through ensuing supernova explosions and powerful winds from massive stars, the burst of star formation in M82 is driving the prodigous outflow of material. Evidence for the superwind from the galaxy’s central regions is clear in this sharp composite image, based on data from small telescopes on planet Earth. The composite highlights emission from filaments of atomic hydrogen gas in reddish hues. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light-years. Some of the gas in the superwind, enriched in heavy elements forged in the massive stars, will eventually escape into intergalactic space. Triggered by a close encounter with nearby large galaxy M81, the furious burst of star formation in M82 should last about 100 million years or so. M82 is 12 million light-years distant, near the northern boundary of Ursa Major.

Credit:  Dietmar Hager, Torsten Grossmann

The Cigar Galaxy - M82 in Star-burst

12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major (which some of you may know as the Big Dipper!) lies a Star-Burst Galaxy known as the Cigar Galaxy. The Galaxy is undergoing a period of intense star formation known as a Star-Burst. It is thanks to this Star-Burst that the Cigar Galaxy is almost 5 times more luminous than our own Milky-way. The Hubble Telescope has discovered nearly 200 young star clusters in the processes of forming. Stars in most of these clusters are being born 10 times faster than across our entire milky-way!

Credit: NASA/IPAC & Hubble


Interacting Galaxy - NGC 2936 (Porpoise Galaxy)

Spiral Galaxy - NGC 224 (Andromeda Galaxy)

Lenticular Galaxy - NGC 5866 (Spindle Galaxy)

Peculiar Galaxy - NGC 5128 (Centaurus A)

Barred Spiral Galaxy - NGC 1300

Starburst Galaxy - M82 (Cigar Galaxy)

The M81 Group - Bodes Galaxy (M81) and the Cigar Galaxy (M82)

Bodes Galaxy, also known as NGC 3031 or M81, is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. In this image Bodes Galaxy is on the bottom. Due to its proximity to Earth, large size and active galactic nucleus (which harbors a 70 million M supermassive black hole), Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also make it a popular target for amateur astronomers.

The Cigar Galaxy, also known as NGC 3034 or M82, is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the same constellation the previously mentioned M81. It is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy’s center. The starburst activity is thought to be triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81, and M82 is a member of the M81 Group. As the closest starburst galaxy to our own, M82 is the prototypical example of this type of galaxy.

Credit: Jeff Weiss/NASA/ESO/

A Starburst and a Supernova

Messier 82 (also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy or M82) is the prototypenearby starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The starburst galaxy is five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy’s center.The starburst activity is thought to be triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81, and M82 is a member of the M81 Group.

On 21 January 2014 at 19.20 UT a previously unseen star was observed in M82 by Dr. Steve J. Fossey, along with a team of 4 of his students, at UCL’s training observatory, the University of London Observatory. Later observations of M82 found the supernova to be present on 15, 16, 17, 19, 20 and 22 January, brightening from magnitude +14.4 to +11.3; there was no sign of it, to limiting magnitude +17, on 14 January. It was suggested that it could become as bright as magnitude +8.5, well within the visual range of small telescopes and large binoculars. Preliminary analysis classified it as “a young, reddened Type Ia supernova”. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has designated it SN 2014J. This is one of the closest supernovae to earth observed in recent decades.

Credit: NASA/Hubble/Wikipedia

The Supernova Next Door

Exciting news for astronomers today! A fresh, new supernova has been detected in the M82 galaxy (if by “fresh” you mean 12 million years old). M82 lies in Ursa Major, and this particular galaxy contains a dense, active birthing garden for new stars. The image above (via Wikipedia) shows M82 as it appeared in December 2013 and again on january 21, 2014.

This supernova, currently christened with the mouthful-of-a-name “PSN J09554214+6940260” is the closest supernova detected in over 25 years (but it’s still far enough away that we have nothing to worry about). It is classified as a Type Ia supernova, a class that astronomers still don’t completely understand. 

Currently, it’s still dim enough that you’d need a telescope to see, but it may brighten enough in the next couple weeks that binoculars will do the trick (but really, who owns binoculars?) … an exciting reminder that the universe is a constantly evolving place, both here and 12 million light years away, inside of a space bear.

Phil Plait has the full sciencey rundown at Bad Astronomy!

M81 versus M82

Here in the Milky Way galaxy we have astronomical front row seats as M81 and M82 face-off, a mere 12 million light-years away. Locked in a gravitational struggle for the past billion years or so, the two bright galaxies are captured in this deep telescopic snapshot, constructed from 25 hours of image data. Their most recent close encounter likely resulted in the enhanced spiral arms of M81 (left) and violent star forming regions in M82 so energetic the galaxy glows in X-rays. After repeated passes, in a few billion years only one galaxy will remain. From our perspective, this cosmic moment is seen through a foreground veil of the Milky Way’s stars and clouds of dust. Faintly reflecting the foreground starlight, the pervasive dust clouds are relatively unexplored galactic cirrus, or integrated flux nebulae, only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way.
Image Credit & Copyright: Ivan Eder

Bright New Supernova Blows Up in Nearby M82, the Cigar Galaxy

Now here’s a supernova bright enough for even small telescope observers to see. And it’s in a bright galaxy in Ursa Major well placed for viewing during evening hours in the northern hemisphere. Doesn’t get much better than that! The new object was discovered last night by  S.J. Fossey; news of the outburst first appeared on the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams “Transient Objects Confirmation Page”

M82 is a bright, striking edge-on spiral galaxy bright enough to see in binoculars. Known as the Cigar or Starburst Galaxy because of its shape and a large, active starburst region in its core, it’s only 12 million light years from Earth and home to two previous supernovae in 2004 and 2008. Neither of those came anywhere close to the being as bright as the discovery, and it’s very possible the new object will become brighter yet.

Full Article

Credit: E. Guido, N. Howes, M. Nicolini.

Great Observatories Present a Rainbow of a Galaxy

M82 is shown in all its wavelength glory. Dissolving from Chandra X-ray Observatory images of three X-ray energy bands to images in three bands of the infrared spectrum taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope, and ending with the Hubble Space Telescope’s visible- and near-infrared-light image. The three observatories’ images were composited to reveal the galaxy’s stars, as well as gas and dust features.

Credit: NASA/JPL