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Kent Wood | all galleries >> Galleries >> Deep Space Objects > M33, Triangulum Galaxy
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M33, Triangulum Galaxy

Looking back in time.

Did you ever wonder what things looked like 100 years ago…1000 years ago…how about 3 million years ago? Well, next time you want to know, just head out to a dark site, away from the lights of the city, and look up towards the constellation Triangulum, just between Perseus and Andromeda. If your eyes are good, you will see a white smudge. This smudge is the Triangulum Galaxy, M33, arguably the furthest object our naked eye can see (Some claim to be able to see M81 which is further). M33 lies some 2.8 million light years away from us, as measured by Cepheid variable stars in the galaxy. This means that the light that we are seeing in that moment, originated from the galaxy almost 3 million years ago, so in reality, you are looking into the past.

M33 is part of our local group of galaxies and most likely gravitationally bound to it’s much larger neighbor, M31 (Andromeda Galaxy). It is half the size of the Milky Way and is about 50,000 light years across. It is filled with many HII regions, which gives rise to the many areas of red and pink visible in the image. One of the largest known is NGC 604, which is the large red knot located in the upper right corner of the galaxy. This large emission nebula is about 1500 light years across, and is filled with up to 200 large massive OB stars which were recently imaged by the Hubble telescope. Many bright white and blue clusters of young Population I stars are also visible throughout the arms of the galaxy.

A recent study of this galaxy, using the Chandra x-ray telescope, has shown that there are about 100 optically emitting SNR’s (Super Nova Remanats) in this galaxy. 37 of them have x-ray counterparts. (Parviz Ghavamian et al, 2005, The Atronomical Journal 130, 539-553) Using an image from the Chandra survey, I transposed the relative positions of several of these SNR sites to this image(see next image on this site). Quite a few small, red, annular rings were noticed while processing this image, which originally were thought to be SNR’s but do not seem to coincide with the Chandra data, and most likely are the margins of emission nebulae.

Image Acquisition info:

Date: August 2008
Location: Starlodge Observatory
Camera: STL 11000
Telescope: CDK 12.5
LRGB: 300:140:140:140 (12 hours)

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