APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

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APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby APOD Robot » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:08 am

Image Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy

Explanation: A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, Messier 63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. Also cataloged as NGC 5055, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across. That's about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy, M63 sports a bright yellowish core in this sharp, colorful galaxy portrait. Its sweeping blue spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that could be the result of gravitational interactions with nearby galaxies. In fact, M63 shines across the electromagnetic spectrum and is thought to have undergone bursts of intense star formation.

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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby Boomer12k » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:47 am

It appears to have a stream off to the right.....it is very disrupted on the right side, also. The edges are diffused and not clear, like they have blended together and are not sharp. The dust has been disrupted at the bottom to the right side...

Wonderful image...very clear.

My M63 is fairly dark, at only being a 30 second to 1 minute exposure. But I see some dust lanes and features...but not worthy of posting.

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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby Ann » Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:02 am

This is a lovely picture, and M63 is a beautiful galaxy. It isn't called the Sunflower Galaxy for nothing.

M63 is one of the so-called flocculent galaxies. That means that it doesn't have those long spiral arms of, say, M51 or M100. Another example of a flocculent galaxy is NGC 2841.

Although M63 is defintely forming stars, I wasn't aware that it has been thought of as a post-starburst galaxy. Flocculent galaxies usually aren't forming all that many stars.

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Last edited by Ann on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby Chris Peterson » Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:32 pm

Boomer12k wrote:It appears to have a stream off to the right.....it is very disrupted on the right side, also.

I think you're just seeing the end of one of the arms. We're so used to seeing these galaxy images contrast stretched to the extreme, to reveal the faintest nebulosity and structure. That's not necessarily bad, but it completely eliminates any realistic sense of the actual brightness range present in the overall structure. Today's image hasn't been stretched to quite that extreme, and part of that arm is hard to see, leaving a brighter extremity apparently stranded.
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby BMAONE23 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:20 pm

To me it looks like 3 galaxies in one.
1) The bright yellow (sunflower) central region (zone)
2) The Bright Blue star forming region with the wonderfully photogenic pink/red nebulae (zone)
3) The much more faint almost gossamer diffuse glowing region surrounding the other two zones
This third region does appear to contain some star forming regions on both sides of the galaxy though not as vibrant as the second zone and many older appearing stars.
All in all, a really interesting galaxy
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby quigley » Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:27 pm

Gorgeous image. Makes me wish I could go there to see it first hand out of the window of a starship. Since this galaxy does not possess obvious bars, does that mean it probably does not have a "super-massive black hole" at its center?
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby BMAONE23 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:16 pm

Though using a slightly different color scheme, this AOPD from April 17 2008 shows a somewhat deeper image of M63 and highlights the tidal streams in the more diffuse rural section of the galaxy
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080417.html
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby Anthony Barreiro » Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:36 pm

quigley wrote:Gorgeous image. Makes me wish I could go there to see it first hand out of the window of a starship. Since this galaxy does not possess obvious bars, does that mean it probably does not have a "super-massive black hole" at its center?

I imagine that if you were in the vicinity of M63, say 100,000 light years above the plane of the galaxy, it wouldn't look like this. The bright central bulge would dominate the view, and you would see some bright individual stars, clusters, and nebulae on your side of the galaxy. And if you were on a planet orbiting a star in one of the spiral arms, it wouldn't look like a spiral galaxy at all, it would look like a milky way arching across the nighttime sky (assuming your planet uses low-wattage, fully-shielded, downward-pointing, warm-spectrum nighttime lighting!). We have a pretty good perspective on M63 from here.

As an aside, the pinks and blues in this photo want me to rename M63 the Beadazzled galaxy! Do the brightness and saturation of those colors have anything to do with the fact that the central region and spiral arms are much brighter than the halo in this image? And am I using the terms brightness and saturation correctly?
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby starsurfer » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:03 pm

I thought it had been conclusively proved that the tidal streams in this galaxy were the result of minor merger events with dwarf satellite galaxies? A paper was published about it a few years ago: http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-3881/142/5/166
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby LocalColor » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:48 am

Beautiful photo of a beautiful "flower" of a galaxy.
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Re: APOD: Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy (2014 Mar 13)

Postby MarkBour » Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:23 am

Anthony Barreiro wrote: . . . assuming your planet uses low-wattage, fully-shielded, downward-pointing, warm-spectrum nighttime lighting!

I loved that.
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