Messier 63 – a Sunflower Galaxy

59 views Leave a comment

In a 18th century, while acid a night sky for comets, French astronomer Charles Messier kept observant a participation of fixed, disband objects he primarily mistook for comets. In time, he would come to accumulate a list of approximately 100 of these objects, anticipating to forestall other astronomers from creation a same mistake. This list – famous as a Messier Catalog – would go on to turn one of a many successful catalogs of Deep Sky Objects.

One of these objects is a turn universe famous as Messier 63 – aka. a Sunflower Galaxy. Located in a Canes Venatici constellation, this universe is located roughly 37 million light-years from Earth and has an active nucleus. Messier 63 is partial of a M51 Group, a organisation of galaxies that also includes Messier 51 (the ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’), and can be simply speckled regulating binoculars and tiny telescopes.


Messier 63 is what is famous as a a flocculent turn galaxy, consisting of a executive front surrounded by many brief turn arm segments – one not connected by a executive bar structure. Drifting along in space some 37,000 light years from a possess galaxy, we famous it interacts gravitationally with M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy) and we also know that a outdoor regions are rotating so fast that if it weren’t for dim matter – it would slice itself apart.

Infrared picture of a Sunflower Galaxy (Messier 63) taken by a Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SINGS Team

As Michele D. Thornley and Lee G. Mundy, of a Maryland University Department of Astronomy, indicated in a 1997 study:
“The morphology and inematics described by VLA observations of H we glimmer and FCRAO and Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) Array observations of CO glimmer yield justification for a participation of low-amplitude firmness waves in NGC 5055. The placement of CO and H we glimmer suggests extended gas aspect densities along a NIR turn arms, and structures identical to a hulk molecular associations found in a grand settlement spirals M51 and M100 are detected. An research of H we and H? quickness fields shows a kinematic signature of streaming motions identical in bulk to those of M100 in both tracers. The obtuse grade of classification along a turn arms of NGC 5055 competence be due to a reduce altogether gas aspect density, that in a arms of NGC 5055 is a cause of 2 reduce than in M100 and a cause of 6 reduce than in M51; an research of gravitational instability shows a gas in a arms is usually marginally inconstant and a interarm gas i!
s marginally stable. The singular border of a turn arm settlement is unchanging with an removed firmness call with a comparatively high settlement speed.”

There really good could be a large intent dim within. As Sebastien Blais-Ouellette of a Universite de Montreal pronounced in a 1998 study:
“In a tellurian kinematical investigate of NGC 5055 regulating high fortitude Fabry-Perot, intriguing bright line profiles have been celebrated in a core of a galaxy. These profiles seem to prove a fast rotating hoop with a radius nearby 365 pc and slanted 50 deg with honour to a vital pivot of a galaxy. In a supposition of a large dim object, a genuine keplerian guess gives a mass around 10^7.2 to 10^7.5 M.”

Infrared picture of a M63 universe done by Médéric Boquien, regulating information retrieved on a SINGS plan open repository of a Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

But that’s not all they’ve found either… How about a lopsided, chemically lunatic nucleus! As V.L. Afanasiev (et al) forked out in their 2002 study:
“We have found a resolved chemically graphic core in NGC 5055, with a magnesium-enhanced segment shifted by 2″.5 (100 pc) to a south-west from a photometric center, toward a kinematically identified circumnuclear stellar disk. Mean ages of stellar populations in a loyal nucleus, tangible as a photometric center, and in a magnesium-enhanced basis are concurrent and equal to 3-4 Gyr being younger by several Gyr with honour to a gush stellar population.”

Yep. It competence be beautiful, though it’s warped. As G. Battaglia of a Kapteyn Astronomical Institute indicated in a 2005 study:
“NGC 5055 shows conspicuous altogether rule and symmetry. A amiable lopsidedness is noticeable, however, both in a placement and kinematics of a gas. The slanted ring research of a quickness margin led us to adopt opposite values for a kinematical centre and for a systemic quickness for a middle and a outdoor tools of a system. This has constructed a conspicuous result: a kinematical and geometrical asymmetries disappear, both during a same time. These formula indicate during dual opposite dynamical regimes: an middle segment dominated by a stellar hoop and an outdoor one, dominated by a dim matter halo equivalent with honour to a disk.”

Sunflower Galaxy (Messier 63). Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

History of Observation:

Messier Object 63 was a really initial find by Charles Messier’s crony and partner Pierre Mechain, who incited it adult on Jun 14, 1779. While Mechain himself did not write a notes, Messier did:
“Nebula detected by M. Mechain in Canes Venatici. M. Messier searched for it; it is faint, it has scarcely a same light as a effluvium reported underneath no. 59: it contains no star, and a smallest enlightenment of a micrometer wires creates it disappear: it is tighten to a star of 8th magnitude, that precedes a effluvium on a hour wire. M. Messier has reported a position on a Chart of a trail of a Comet of 1779.”
Messier 63 would go on to be celebrated and resolved by Sir William Herschel and cataloged by his son John. It would be descriptively narrated by Admiral Symth and exclaimed over by many astronomers – one of a best of that was Lord Rosse: “Spiral? Darkness south issuing nucleus.” Of all a descriptions, maybe a best belongs to Curtis, who initial photographed it with a Crossley Reflector during Lick Observatory: “Has an roughly stellar nucleus. The whorls are narrow, really compactly arranged, and uncover countless roughly stellar condensations.”

Locating Messier 63:

The pleasing Sunflower Galaxy is among one of a easiest of a Messier objects to find. It’s located roughly precisely between Cor Caroli (Alpha Canes Venetici) and Eta Ursa Majoris. With a smallest of visual aid, stars 19, 20 and 23 CnV will uncover simply in finderscope or binoculars and M63 will be positioned right around dual degrees divided towards Eta UM.

The plcae of Messier 63 in a Canes Venatici constellation. Credit: IAU/Sky Telescope repository (Roger Sinnott Rick Fienberg)

While this turn universe has a good altogether brightness, it’s going to be really gloomy for binoculars, usually display as a minute contrariety change in smaller models. However, even a medium telescope will simply see a gloomy oval figure with a strong nucleus. The some-more orifice we apply, a some-more sum we will see. As distance approaches 8″ and larger, design to see turn structure!

Power up… And demeanour for a turn in a Sunflower!

Object Name: Messier 63
Alternative Designations: M63, NGC 5055, Sunflower Galaxy
Object Type: Type Sb Spiral Galaxy
Constellation: Canes Venatici
Right Ascension: 13 : 15.8 (h:m)
Declination: +42 : 02 (deg:m)
Distance: 37000 (kly)
Visual Brightness: 8.6 (mag)
Apparent Dimension: 10×6 (arc min)

We have created many engaging articles about Messier Objects here during Universe Today. Here’s Tammy Plotner’s Introduction to a Messier Objects,  M1 – The Crab Nebula, and David Dickison’s articles on a 2013 and 2014 Messier Marathons.

Be to certain to check out a finish Messier Catalog. And for some-more information, check out a SEDS Messier Database.

Source: Universe Today, created by Tammy Plotner.

Comment this news or article