CCD image of the Virgo Cluster spiral galaxy M61, from Greg Bothun of the University of Oregon.
M61, a member of the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies, has a bright nucleus but a relatively faint outer disk. This disk is shown here to an extension of 6.5 x 5.8 arcmintues. This image is also from Greg Bothun.
This CCD image of M61 was obtained by Bill Keel of the University of Alabama, with the 2.1-meter telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory and a Tektronix 800x800 CCD camera, in the red light. The field of view is 2.5 arcminutes square. Many features are visible, including the bar feature, dark dust lanes and bright associations of young stars in the more outer arms. Only the inner part of the galaxy is shown in this image.
Adam Block of the Kitt Peak Visitor Center's Advanced Observing Program (AOP) took this gorgeous image of M61. M61 is one of the major members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It is comparable in size to our own galaxy. Though a barred spiral, deep images such as this make the bar in the nucleus of the galaxy less obvious. This galaxy has an extraordinary number of star forming regions (HII, pink areas). A image with greater resolution would certainly show even more evidence of active star formation. At distance of 60 million light years away M61 seems to float in the foreground of several distant galaxies.
Bethany and Amanda VanStavern made this gorgeous image of M61 and nearby galaxy NGC 4303A, a smaller barred spiral looking like a miniature of the larger Messier galaxy. M61 exhibits interesting colors: The older population in and near the nucleus is recognzed from its yellowish color, the younger stars in the spiral arms are dominated, in light, by the hot blue stars of higher mass, and the pinkish diffuse nebulae mark regions of current star formation; current at the time the light was emitted. Faintish outlayers indicate the enormous size of huge M61. The image was taken during the authors' stay on Kitt peak with the Advanced Observing Program (AOP), and processed by Adam Block.
Last Modification: June 27, 1999