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Messier 82, the Cigar Galaxy (aka NGC 3034)

Messier82_CigarWebThis image of Messier 82 was imaged from Roberts Creek on May 29/30 2016 with a Megrez 120mm, Canon 60Da, and a x1.6 Barlow lens. Guided exposures were taken at 30, 120, 300 and 600 seconds for a total exposure time of 68 mins. at 1600 ISO. Stacking was with Deep Sky Stacker, processing in Photoshop CS2 and PixInsight. The sky quality (SQM) reading was an excellent 21.9, the best I’ve ever recorded from this location, all my neighbour’s lights were off and the moon had not risen!
Messier 82 is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major in which stars are forming at very high rates. It is a member of the M81 Group, this group is circumpolar, we can see it from our latitude all year round. Finding M82 is not particularly difficult as the “Plough” asterism of Ursa Major can be used as the starting point. The M81 / M82 pair is located 10 degrees northwest of Dubhe, the northwest corner star of the bowl of the Plough.
M82 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 neighbouring galaxy M81. As the closest starburst galaxy to our own, M82 is the prototypical example of this galaxy type, the Seyfert galaxies. In 2014, in studying M82, scientists discovered the brightest pulsar yet known, designated M82 X-2, it lies at the centre of the galaxy.

Mike Bradley


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