Sunday, March 14, 2021

M64 Galaxy

M64 is a spiral galaxy 17 million light years away from Earth, visible in the constellation Coma Berenices.

This galaxy is particularly famous among amateur astronomers, among which it is known by the names of the Black Eye Galaxy and the Devil's Eye Galaxy due to its particular appearance when viewed through a telescope. Its core is in fact partly hidden by the thick bands of dust located in front of it, as is evident in this image obtained by the Hubble Telescope.

At first glance M64 looks like a normal spiral galaxy. Detailed analyzes of the kinematics of its gas revealed that the galaxy is made up of two distinct components: the gas in the inner region rotate in the opposite direction to that of the gas in the outer region.

The hypothesis currently most accredited to explain this aspect supposes that about a billion years ago M64 absorbed one of its satellite galaxy. Nothing remains of this galaxy today and the only evidence of the collision would be the different direction of rotation and the numerous star formation phenomena present in the outer regions of M64.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble.

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