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M95 and M96

 

M95, M96

 

Messier 95 (also known as NGC 3351, to the right) is a barred spiral galaxy about 36 million light-years distant in the constellation Leo. The center of the galaxy contains a ring-shaped star-forming region with a diameter of approximately 2000 light years. M95 belongs to the Leo I group. This group contains between 8 and 24 galaxies, including the three Messier objects M95, M96 and M105.

Messier 96 (also known as NGC 3368, to the left) is a type Sa spiral galaxy at a distance of about 41 million light-years. M96 is the brightest member of the Leo I group of galaxies, which is therefore also called the M96 group. De Vaucouleurs has determined that M96 is inclined by 35 degrees to our line of sight, and that it rotates with trailing spiral arms.

Both galaxies were discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781, and catalogued by Charles Messier in the same year.

Lots of faint background galaxies can be found by a close search within this photograph. Indeed, three of them are superimposed on M96, including an edge-on spiral galaxy that apparently lies behind the upper left outer spiral arm. The edge-on spiral appears to be about 1/5th the size of M96, implying that lies about 5 times farther away if it is of similar size.


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© 2010 Walter Koprolin