Messier 81 and Messier 82 – 16 Jan. 2024.

Among the best known galaxies out there, M81 and M82 are always a stunning view. Here it is our lat image of this cosmic pair.

Messier 81 and Messier 82: 16 Jan. 2024.

Messier 81 and Messier 82: 16 Jan. 2024.

The image above comes from the average of 30, 120-second exposures, unfiltered, remotely taken with the ARTEC250+Paramount ME+C3Pro61000EC robotic unit available as part of the Virtual Telescope Project facility in Manciano, Italy. The image was gently processed to show all the finest details and structures visible in the original data.

Discovered in 1774 by J. E. Bode, this pair is of paramount importance in astronomy. Located at about 12 million of light years from us, they are the most important components of the so-called M81 Group and two of the most studied galaxies in the sky.

Messier 81 (M81) has an active galactic nucleus, hosting a 70-million solar mass supermassive black hole. Its grand design is really outstanding, making M81 an iconic spiral galaxy.

Messier 82 (M82) is an irregular starburst galaxy, perhaps the most famous one of this kind. In 2014 it hosted the important supernova SN 2014J.

Several smaller galaxies are present, too; all around, very faint dusty structures are visible, which are much closer to us, the so-called Integrated Flux Nebula (IFN). The dust is illuminated by our Milky Way galaxy.

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