Galaxy Trio in Leo

Higher resolutions: 3117 x 2421 (100%)

About this Image

Subject Trio of galaxies in Leo comprising NGC 3628 AKA "the hamburger", M65 and M66 / Arp 16. The group as a whole are also know variously as the Leo Triplet, Arp 317 and the M66 Group.
Data NED database entries: M66, M65 and NGC3628
Description The Leo trio are a triplet of galaxies that show some interesting distortions due to their gravitational interactions.

North is to the left in this image. M66 is located at the lower right, M65 above it, and NGC3628 to the left.

Perhaps in-part due to the interactions M66 appears to have a relatively high rate of supernova explosions with 3 detected between 1989 and 2009 alone. It's Arp designation is due to the distorted asymmetric spiral arms that appear to rise above the nucleus.

The edge-on galazy NGC3628 also seems to be disturbed with a faint detached arm of material below it that is just visible above the noise floor in the image, and the splayed-out ends of its spiral arms. In extremely deep images the detached arm can be better discerned and turns out to be a faint tidal tail that stretches out to more than twice the length of the galaxy.

Technical Details

Date 2010 04 13-14
Location Pumpkin Patch Observatory, Bourn, Cambridge, UK
Environment ~6C, ~70% humidity, no moon, seeing 2.7-3.4 arcs.
Optics Astro Optik 400mm Cassegrain @ prime focus (f=1200mm)
Filters Astrodon RGB, YR Cyclops filter wheel
Mount Paramount ME
Guiding Borg 101ED/SBIG ST402ME
Camera FLI Microline 16803
Exposure RGB 70/50/60 mins, 10 minute subs
Processing Maxim/DL 5, CCDStack, Photoshop CS
Notes First RGB image. Used sum combine of RGB as a luminance layer to help pull out more faint detail.
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