Messier 66. M66. NGC 3627

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Messier 66 (usually known as M66 or NGC 3627), is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Leo. It forms, together with Messier 65 and NGC 3628 (here is a nice image of it, by Jose Carballada), a physical system that is known as the Leo Triplet. Gravitational pulls have modified all three galaxies, and M65 has not been an exception and its spiral arms look distorted as well as a conspicuous and distorted star cloud orbits around it. This galaxy is considered to be an intermediate between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy. There is a good description of M66 here.

M66 shows a quite distorted structure and this is a consequence of a close gravitational encounter with NGC 3628 (also known as the “Hamburger” galaxy, not pictured here). This encounter seems to have triggered the evolution of, probably, both galaxies to AGNs (Active Galactic Nucleus) as well as the accretion of significant amounts of gas in their central regions that end up forming new stars.

This image is a crop of an image with M65:

 

Additional Information

Object

Name(s): Messier 66. M66. NGC 3627

Type: Intermediate Spiral Galaxy

RA:  11h 20m 14s

Dec: +12º 59’ 29”

Constellation: Leo

Size (arcmin): 9×4 arcmin

Magnitude: +8.9

Distance: 37 Mly

Image

Date: 2019-12-28 to 2020-01-20

Location: Curiosity 2 Observatory, NMS, Mayhill, NM, USA

Size (arcmin): 17×13 arcmin

Telescope: 24” f/6.5 Reflector

Camera: FLI PL16803 (4096x4096pix)

Guiding: Astrodon MonsterMOAG off-axis guider

Total exposure: 26 hours (Ha: 6h 40m; L: 7h 20m; RGB: 4 h each)

Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CC 2020

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