M81, M82, Integrated Flux Nebula

M81 M82 IFN
All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here for a medium sized image

RA: 9h 55m 58s
Dec: 69 degrees 02' 43"
Position Angle: +268 degrees

M81 (the largest galaxy on the left) is a grand-design spiral galaxy that was discovered by Johann Bode in 1774.   Due to its relatively large size and high surface brightness, it is an easy target for visual observation through small aperture telescopes.  M81 forms a galactic pair with M82 (on the right), located only 150,000 light years apart, and the two galaxies have influenced each other through a close encounter occurring tens of millions of years ago.  Closer examination of this image reveals a larger companion galaxy located above M81, referred to as Holmberg IX.  M82 (the smaller galaxy on the right) is a companion to M81 and was also discovered by Johann Bode in 1774.  It has an odd, oblong shape that is thought to have arisen from gravitational interaction with M81 millions of years ago.  High resolution color images of M82 show dramatic tendrils of red gas shooting from the center of the galaxy.  The region shown in this image is located high above the galactic plane and shows a very faint glow known as the Integrated Flux Nebula (IFN), due to interstellar dust that reflects light from the billions of stars shining in the Milky Way galaxy.

Photographic Details:

Date:  February 21, 22, 23, 2020
Scope:  Takahashi FSQ-106
Autoguider:  ST402
Camera:  SX814
Luminance, R, G, B (Baader)
Exposures:  Total exposure duration 23 hours
Captured and calibrated in MaximDL, followed by alignment in Registar, followed by integration, DBE, deconvolution, noise reduction, and DDP in Pixinsight.  Subsequent processing in Photoshop CS (16 bit format).

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