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. 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; 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.

(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. 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 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. Its core has undergone a contraction known as core collapse and it has a central density cusp with an enormous number of stars surrounding what may be a central black hole.

(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; by Charles Messier in 1764. The Dumbbell Nebula appears to be shaped like an prolate spheroid and is viewed from our perspective along the plane of its equator. Its rate of expansion in the plane of the sky was no more than 2.3" per century. From this, an upper limit to the age of 14,600 yr may be determined. Given its semi-minor axis radius of 1.01 light years, this implies that the kinematic 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. 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. 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.

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. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The cluster is dominated by hot blue and luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. A faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternative name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now 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. In this proposed scenario, NGC 5195 came from behind M51 through the disk towards the observer and made another disk crossing as recently as 50 to 100 million years ago until it is where we observe it to be now, slightly behind M51.

(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. 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. 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 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 NGC 3628 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 of comet-like objects 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, HD 38563A and HD 38563B, 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. 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. 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. 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)