Monday, October 24, 2022

A Dusty Beauty: Spiral Galaxy Messier 66 (ground-based view) | ESO

A Dusty Beauty: Spiral Galaxy Messier 66 (ground-based view) | ESO

NGC 3627 is also known as Messier 66. It is the 66th object in the famous catalog of nebulae by French astronomer Charles Messier (1730-1817). It is located in the constellation Leo (The Lion).

NGC 3627 is a beautiful spiral with a well-developed central bulge. It also displays large-scale dust lanes. Many regions of warm hydrogen gas are seen throughout the disc of this galaxy. The latter regions are being ionized by radiation from clusters of newborn stars. Very active star-formation is most likely also occurring in the nuclear regions of NGC 3627.

The galaxy forms, together with its neighbors M65 and NGC 3628, the so-called "Leo Triplet" ; they are located at a distance of about 35 million light-years. Messier 66 is the largest of the three. Its spiral arms appear distorted and displaced above the main plane of the galaxy. The asymmetric appearance is most likely due to gravitational interaction with its neighbors.

This photo of the spiral galaxy M66 (or NGC 3627) was obtained with the FORS1 and FORS2 multi-mode instruments (at VLT MELIPAL and YEPUN, respectively) on December 16-18, 2001. It is a composite of three exposures in different wavebands. North is towards upper left, West towards upper right.

Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)/P. Barthel

Release Date: December 19, 2003

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