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Harel Boren | all galleries >> Galaxies > Leo Triplet - M65, M66, and NGC 3628
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Leo Triplet - M65, M66, and NGC 3628
Feb. 4, 2009 Harel Boren

Leo Triplet - M65, M66, and NGC 3628

Israel, Hazan Caves

The Leo Triplet or M66 group (named after the brightest of the three galaxies it comprises) is a beautiful, gravitationally interacting, group of galaxies, approx. 35 million light years away.

M65 is a normal spiral galaxy very much similar to the Milky Way. It has tightly wrapped spiral arms and a large nuclear central bulge, where its stars are older and redder than the blue disk stars. Its prominent dust lane marking the facing edge is clearly visible in this image.

Though its neighbor, M66, is the largest galaxy in the group, it appears that M65's gravity has distorted M66's symmetry, though M65's smooth symmetry seems unaffected. In M66, intricate dust lanes are intertwined with the otherwise smoothly spiraling arms. SEDS notes that recent research indicates, that M66 is unusual in that older stars are thought to heat up the dust in the galaxy's central bulge - a job attributed to young and hot stars in many other galaxies.

The third member of the group, NGC 3628, is seen edge-on. Its most prominent feature is the thick band of dust which - as can be seen in this image - is distorted in its outer regions by gravitational interaction with M65 and M66.

M65 and M66 were both discovered by Charles Messier on March 1, 1780. NGC 3628, which is the faintest of the group, was missed by Messier and later discovered by William Herschel on April 8, 1784. Herschel cataloged NGC 4628 as H V.8.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi ,LXD75 SN10, IDAS LPS, Badder MPCC
18 exposures x 3 min @ ISO 800 full exif

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