M66, the largest of the Leo Triplet

Posted by BruceW
on Monday, April 1, 2013

M66 is the largest member of the well-known "Leo triplet", located about 35M miles away.  It is classed as an "intermediate spiral" galaxy, meaning it has a hybrid structure lying somewhere "between" the classifications of barred and conventional spiral galaxies.  The arms are strongly asymmetric and the nucleus appears to be somewhat displaced from the apparent center of the galaxy.    This appearance is thought to be a result of gravitational interactions with the other two members of the group, M65 and NC 3628.

This image was taken on a single night, 3/13/2013, using a PlaneWave 12.5" CDK telescope and an SBIG ST-2K camera at f/5.3.  Total integration time was fairly short, just 5.7 hours, working from a semi-rural area near Anza, CA. 

-- Bruce Waddington

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