the messier catalogue


Messier 3

Messier 3, also designated NGC 5272, is a globular cluster of stars in the northern constellation of Canes Venatici. It was discovered on May 3, 1764 and was the first Messier object to be discovered by Charles Messier himself. Identification of the cluster's unusually large variable star population was begun in 1913 by American astronomer Solon Irving Bailey and new variable members continue to be identified up through 2004. Messier 3 is located 31,600 light years above the Galactic plane and roughly 38,800 light years from the center of the Milky Way. It contains 274 known variable stars; the highest number found in any globular cluster.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 13

Messier 13, also designated NGC 6205, is a globular cluster of about 300,000 stars in the constellation of Hercules. M13 was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764. Nearby is NGC 6207, a 12th magnitude edge-on galaxy that lies 28 arc minutes directly north east. A small galaxy, IC 4617, lies halfway between NGC 6207 and M13, north-northeast of the large globular cluster's center. M13 is about 145 light years in diameter, and it is composed of several hundred thousand stars. M13 is 22,200 light years away from Earth.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 15

Messier 15, also designated NGC 7078, is a globular cluster in the constellation Pegasus. It was discovered by Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746 and included in Charles Messier's catalogue of comet-like objects in 1764. At an estimated 12.0 billion years old, it is one of the oldest known globular clusters. M15 is about 33,600 light years from Earth, and 175 light years in diameter. Messier 15 is one of the most densely packed globulars known in the Milky Way galaxy.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 27

Messier 27, also designated NGC 6853 and sometimes called the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula in the constellation Vulpecula, at a distance of about 1,360 light-years. This object was the first planetary nebula to be discovered (Charles Messier, 1764). M27 appears to be shaped like an prolate spheroid and is viewed from our perspective along the plane of its equator. The age of the nebula is some 9,800 years. The central star, a white dwarf, is estimated to have a radius which is 0.055 R which gives it a size larger than most other known white dwarfs. The central star mass was estimated to be 0.56 M.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 31 / Messier 32 / Messier 110

Messier 31, also designated NGC 224, is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth, and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. The 2006 observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that the Andromeda Galaxy contains approximately one trillion stars, more than twice the number of the Milky Way’s estimated 200-400 billion stars. The Andromeda Galaxy, spanning approximately 220,000 light years, is the largest galaxy in our Local Group.

Messier 32, also known as NGC 221, is a dwarf elliptical galaxy located about 2.65 million light years from Earth, is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy and was discovered by Guillaume Le Gentil in 1749. The galaxy is a prototype of the compact elliptical galaxy class. Half the stars concentrate within an effective radius of only 100 parsecs. M32 contains mostly older faint red and yellow stars with practically no dust or gas and consequently no current star formation.

Messier 110, also known as NGC 205, is a dwarf elliptical galaxy. M110 contains some dust and hints of recent star formation, which is unusual for dwarf elliptical galaxies in general. Although Charles Messier never included the galaxy in his list, it was depicted by him, together with M32, on a drawing of the Andromeda galaxy; a label on the drawing indicates that Messier first observed NGC 205 on August 10, 1773. The galaxy was independently discovered by Caroline Herschel on August 27, 1783.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 45

Messier 45, also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, are an open star cluster containing middle-aged, hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. The cluster is dominated by hot blue stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. A faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars is likely an unrelated foreground dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are currently passing. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 51

Messier 51, also known as NGC 5194 or the Whirlpool Galaxy, is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy with a Seyfert 2 active galactic nucleus. It lies in the constellation Canes Venatici, and was the first galaxy to be classified as a spiral galaxy. Its distance is estimated to be between 15 and 35 million light years. The pronounced spiral structure of the Whirlpool Galaxy is believed to be the result of the close interaction between it and its companion galaxy NGC 5195, which may have passed through the main disk of M51 about 500 to 600 million years ago.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 53

Messier 53, also known as NGC 5024, is a globular cluster in the Coma Berenices constellation. It was discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1775. M53 is one of the more outlying globular clusters, being about 60,000 light years away from the Galactic Center. M53 is considered a metal-poor cluster and at one time was thought to be the most metal-poor cluster in the Milky Way. A tidal bridge-like structure appears to connect M53 with the close neighbor NCG 5053. M53 is a candidate member of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy tidal stream.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 64

Messier 64, also called Evil Eye Galaxy or NGC 4826, is a galaxy which was discovered by Edward Pigott in March 1779, and independently by Johann Elert Bode in April of the same year, as well as by Charles Messier in 1780. It has a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy's bright nucleus, giving rise to its nicknames of the Black Eye or Evil Eye galaxy. It is a spiral galaxy in the Coma Berenices constellation. The interstellar medium of Messier 64 consists of two counter-rotating disks that are approximately equal in mass. The inner disk contains the prominent dust lanes of the galaxy.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 65 / Messier 66

Messier 65, also known as NGC 3623, is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1780. Along with M66 and NGC 3628, M65 forms the Leo Triplet, a small group of galaxies. To the eye, M65's disk appears slightly warped, and its relatively recent burst of star formation is also suggestive of some external disturbance. M65 may have a central bar - a feature which is suggestive of tidal disruption.

Messier 66, also known as NGC 3627, is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 36 million light-years away. M66 is about 95 thousand light years across with striking dust lanes and bright star clusters along sweeping spiral arms. Gravitational interaction from its past encounter with neighboring M65 has resulted in an extremely high central mass concentration, a high molecular to atomic mass ratio and a resolved non-rotating clump of H I material apparently removed from one of the spiral arms. The latter feature shows up visually as an extremely prominent and unusual spiral arm and dust lane structures as originally noted in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 78

Messier 78, also known as NGC 2068, is a reflection nebula in the constellation Orion. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1780 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog that same year. M78 is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula of a group of nebulae that includes NGC 2064, NGC 2067 and NGC 2071. This group belongs to the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and is about 1,600 light years distant from Earth. Two stars are responsible for making the cloud of dust in M78 visible by reflecting their light. About 45 variable stars of the T Tauri type, young stars still in the process of formation as well as some 17 Herbig–Haro objects are known in M78.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 81 / Messier 82

Messier 81, also known as NGC 3031 or Bode's Galaxy, is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light years away in the constellation Ursa Major. M81 was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode on December 31, 1774. In 1779, Pierre Méchain and Charles Messier reidentified Bode's object, which was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue. M81 is the largest galaxy in the M81 Group, a group of 34 galaxies located in the constellation Ursa Major. At approximately 11.7 million light years from the Earth, it makes this group and the Local Group, containing the Milky Way, relative neighbors in the Virgo Supercluster. Gravitational interactions of M81 with M82 and NGC 3077 have stripped hydrogen gas away from all three galaxies, forming gaseous filamentary structures in the group. Moreover, these interactions have allowed interstellar gas to fall into the centers of M82 and NGC 3077, leading to vigorous star formation or starburst activity there.

Messier 82, also known as NGC 3034 or Cigar Galaxy, is a starburst galaxy approximately 12 million light years away. As member of the M81 Group, it is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and has a center one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy's center. The starburst activity is thought to have been triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81. As the closest starburst galaxy to Earth, M82 is the prototypical example of this galaxy type.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 84 / Messier 86

Messier 84, also known as NGC 4374, is an elliptical or lenticular galaxy in the constellation Virgo. M84 is situated in the heavily populated inner core of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies.

Messier 86, also known as NGC 4406, is an elliptical or lenticular galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. M86 lies in the heart of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies and forms a most conspicuous group with another large galaxy known as Messier 84. It displays the highest blue shift of all Messier objects, as it is approaching the Milky Way at 244 km/s. This is due to its falling towards the center of the Virgo cluster from the opposite side, which causes it to move in the direction of the Milky Way.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 88 / Messier 91

Messier 88, also known as NGC 4501, is a spiral galaxy about 50 to 60 million light years away in the constellation Coma Berenices. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. M88 is one of the fifteen Messier objects that belong to the nearby Virgo Cluster of galaxies. M88 may be on a highly elliptical orbit that is carrying it toward the cluster center, which is occupied by the giant elliptical galaxy M87.

Messier 91, also known as NGC 4548, is a barred spiral galaxy and is part of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. M91 is about 63 million light years away from the earth. It was the last of a group of eight nebulae discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. The inclusion of Messier 91 in the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies was confirmed in 1997 by a calculation of its distance as 52 +/- 6 million light years from observing Cepheid variables.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 98

Messier 98, also known as NGC 4192, is an intermediate spiral galaxy located about 44.4 million light years away in the constellation Coma Berenices. It was discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain on 15 March 1781 and was cataloged by French astronomer Charles Messier on 13 April 1781. M98 has a blue shift and is approaching us at about 140 km/s. The combined mass of the stars in this galaxy is an estimated 76 billion times the mass of the Sun. M98 is a member of the Virgo Cluster, which is a large, relatively nearby cluster of galaxies. About 750 million years ago, M98 may have interacted with the large spiral galaxy Messier 99.

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Messier 100

Messier 100, also known as NGC 4321, is an example of a grand design intermediate spiral galaxy located within the constellation Coma Berenices. It is one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster, located approximately 55 million light years distant from Earth and has a diameter of 107,000 light years. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain on March 15, 1781. The galaxy was one of the first spiral galaxies to be discovered, and was listed as one of fourteen spiral nebulae by Lord William Parsons of Rosse in 1850. Two satellite galaxies named NGC 4323 (connected with M100 by a bridge of luminous matter) and NGC 4328 surround M100.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 106

Messier 106, also known as NGC 4258, is an intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781. M106 is at a distance of about 22 to 25 million light years away from Earth. M106 contains an active nucleus classified as a Type 2 Seyfert, and the presence of a central supermassive black hole has been demonstrated from radio-wavelength observations of the rotation of a disk of molecular gas orbiting within the inner light year around the black hole. M106 is one of the largest and brightest nearby galaxies, similar in size and luminosity to the Andromeda Galaxy.

(Source: Wikipedia)