The Cigar Galaxy (M 82)

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About this Image

The so called Cigar galaxy (M82) in Ursa Major is situated 12 million light years away.

Its core seems to have suffered dramatically from a semi-recent close encounter with M81, being in a heavy starburst and displaying conspicuous dark lanes. The spiral arms seem to have been striped off, leaving a distorted truncated structure.

M82 is well known for vast regions of young, hot stars in stellar nurseries. In visible light, the galaxy looks fairly normal, in H-alpha light, enormous streamers of ionised Hydrogen are visible, stretching 20,000 light years from the galactic plane in both directions. This turbulent explosive gas flow is also a strong source of radio frequencies.

900 minutes of exposure have been used for this image (personal record).


Technical Details


16" cassegrain in secondary focus at f/10

Mount MK-100 GEM
Camera SBIG STL-11000M at -30 - -20C, internal filter wheel
Filters Astronomik LRGB + H-alpha
Date Jan - March 2006.
Location Wildon/Austria
Sky Conditions mag 5-5.5 sky, good transparency;
Exposure L:R:G:B = 300:60:90 minutes (10-minute sub-exposures), 240 min Halpha (30-minute sub-exposures 2x2) at f/10;
combined with 210 min exposure at f/3
Processing Image aquisition in Maxim, image calibration, aligning, DDP in ImagesPlus; H-alpha added to red; color balance, curves, L blending in Photoshop;
north is up;