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

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/

Starburst Clumps in the Cigar Galaxy - M82

Stars in the Center of the Cigar Galaxy are being born 10 times faster than they are inside our entire Milky Way Galaxy. These young stars are crammed into tiny but massive star clusters - lots of stars in a small place! These, in turn, congregate by the dozens to make the bright patches known as “starburst clumps”.

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble

A Starbust Galaxy in Ursa Major (the Big Dipper)

This image is the most detailed image ever taken of athestarburst galaxy known as the Cigar Galaxy. Also known as M82, the Cigar Galaxy is 100 times brighter than the center of our own Milky Way galaxy and is undergoing a period of massive star formation. M84 is so active that In 2014, Astronomers at MIT discovered the brightest known pulsar within the galaxy (source in credit).

Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble/Astronomy & Astrophysics Journal/MIT

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 February 21 

M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind 

What’s lighting up the Cigar Galaxy? M82, as this irregular galaxy is also known, was stirred up by a recent pass near large spiral galaxy M81. This doesn’t fully explain the source of the red-glowing outwardly expanding gas, however. Evidence indicates that this gas is being driven out by the combined emerging particle winds of many stars, together creating a galactic superwind. The featured photographic mosaic highlights a specific color of red light strongly emitted by ionized hydrogen gas, showing detailed filaments of this gas. The filaments extend for over 10,000 light years. The 12-million light-year distant Cigar Galaxy is the brightest galaxy in the sky in infrared light, and can be seen in visible light with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).

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!

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.

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