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. Messier originally mistook the object for a nebula without stars. This mistake was corrected after the stars were resolved by William Herschel around 1784. Since then, it has become one of the best-studied globular clusters. 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 ly above the Galactic plane and roughly 38,800 ly from the center of the Milky Way. It contains 274 known variable stars; by far the highest number found in any globular cluster. These include 133 RR Lyrae variables. Messier 3 is the prototype for the Oosterhoff type I cluster, which is considered metal-rich. That is, for a globular cluster, Messier 3 has a relatively high abundance of heavier elements.

(Source: Wikipedia)


Messier 13

Messier 13, also designated NGC 6205 and sometimes called the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, is a globular cluster of about 300,000 stars. M13 was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764. M13 can be seen in the middle of Zeta Herculis and Eta Herculis. With an apparent magnitude of 5.8, it is barely visible with the naked eye. Its diameter is about 23 arc minutes and it is readily viewable in small telescopes. 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, the brightest of which is a red giant, the variable star V11, with an apparent visual magnitude of 11.95m. M13 is 22,200 light years away from Earth.

(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, which is also home to the Triangulum Galaxy and other minor galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy's mass is estimated to be around 1.76 times that of the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in ~4.5 billion years, merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy or a large disc galaxy. With an apparent magnitude of 3.4, the Andromeda Galaxy is among the brightest of the Messier objects. The Andromeda Galaxy was formed roughly 10 billion years ago from the collision and subsequent merger of smaller protogalaxies. This violent collision formed most of the galaxy's (metal-rich) galactic halo and extended disk. During this epoch, star formation would have been very high, to the point of becoming a luminous infrared galaxy for roughly 100 million years. Andromeda and the Triangulum Galaxy had a very close passage 2–4 billion years ago. This event produced high levels of star formation across the Andromeda Galaxy's disk – even some globular clusters – and disturbed M33's outer disk. Over the past 2 billion years, star formation throughout Andromeda's disk is thought to have decreased to the point of near-inactivity. There have been interactions with satellite galaxies like M32, M110, or others that have already been absorbed by Andromeda Galaxy. These interactions have formed structures like Andromeda's Giant Stellar Stream. A galactic merger roughly 100 million years ago is believed to be responsible for a counter-rotating disk of gas found in the center of Andromeda as well as the presence there of a relatively young (100 million years old) stellar population.

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. M32 measures 6.5 ± 0.2 thousand light years in diameter at the widest point. The galaxy is a prototype of the compact elliptical galaxy class. Half the stars concentrate within an effective radius of only 100 parsecs. Like more ordinary elliptical galaxies, M32 contains mostly older faint red and yellow stars with practically no dust or gas and consequently no current star formation. It does, however, show hints of star formation in the relatively recent past.

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. The suggestion to assign the galaxy a Messier number was made by Kenneth Glyn Jones in 1967.

(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, and almost the same distance from the Solar system. M53 is considered a metal-poor cluster and at one time was thought to be the most metal-poor cluster in the Milky Way. Abundance measurements of cluster members on the red giant branch show that most are first-generation stars. That is, they did not form from gas recycled from previous generations of stars. This differs from the majority of globular clusters that are more dominated by second generation stars. The second generation stars in NGC 5024 tend to be more concentrated in the core region. Overall, the stellar composition of cluster members is similar to members of the Milky Way halo. The cluster displays various tidal-like features including clumps and ripples around the cluster, and tails along the cluster's orbit in an east-west direction. A tidal bridge-like structure appears to connect M53 with the close, very diffuse neighbor NCG 5053, as well as an envelope surrounding both clusters. These may indicate a dynamic tidal interaction has occurred between the two clusters; a possibly unique occurrence within the Milky Way since there are no known binary clusters within the galaxy. In addition, 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. The stellar population of the galaxy exhibits no measurable counter-rotation. Possible formation scenarios include a merger with a gas-rich satellite galaxy in a retrograde orbit, or the continued accretion of gas clouds from the intergalactic medium.

(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. 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. Messier 81 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. Messier 81 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 in the constellation Ursa Major. 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. In 2014, in studying M82, scientists discovered the brightest pulsar yet known, designated M82 X-2.

(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, about 6° to the east of the bright star Denebola. It was discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain on 15 March 1781, along with nearby M99 and M100, and was cataloged by French astronomer Charles Messier on 13 April 1781 in his Catalogue des Nébuleuses & des amas d'Étoiles. M98 has a blue shift and is approaching us at about 140 km/s. The morphological classification of this galaxy is SAB(s)ab, which indicates it is a spiral galaxy that displays mixed barred and non-barred features with intermediate to tightly-wound arms and no ring. It is highly inclined to the line of sight at an angle of 74° and has a maximum rotation velocity of 236 km/s. The combined mass of the stars in this galaxy is an estimated 76 billion times the mass of the Sun. It contains about 4.3 billion solar masses of neutral hydrogen and 85 million solar masses in dust. The nucleus is active, displaying characteristics of a transition type object. That is, it shows properties of a LINER-type galaxy intermixed with an HII region around the nucleus. 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. The two are now separated by a distance of 1,300,000 lys.

(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. NGC 4217 is a possible companion galaxy of Messier 106. It is one of the largest and brightest nearby galaxies, similar in size and luminosity to the Andromeda Galaxy. The supermassive black hole at the core has a mass of (3.9±0.1)×107 M.

(Source: Wikipedia)