M74: Face-on Spiral Galaxy in Pisces

Number 74 in Messier's catalogue, this lovely spiral galaxy in Pisces (distance 32Mly) dominates a field containing stars of our own galaxy and numerous fainter fuzzy objects which are galaxies in the far, far distance. M74 displays a range of colours indicative of the stages of star evolution; the dense yellow core and surrounding regions consist of old stars, the spiral arms contain blue knots of hot, young stars and clusters, whilst the bright red emission nebulae contain stars in the process of formation. 

Of course this view is of the galaxy as it was 32 million years ago - imagine how it would look if we could see it now. Many of the massive blue stars will have been destroyed in brilliant supernova explosions and the gases of the red emission regions will have dispersed revealing the hot stars within. The shockwaves from the supernova explosions will most likely have caused collapse of surrounding gas and dusty material to start a new series of star-forming events and associated red emission regions. The galaxy may look very different now!


Camera: SBIG STL11000M, Astrodon filters Scope: Takahashi TOA-130, f=1000mm, f7.7+flattner (fov ~2.1 x 1.4)
Mount: Takahashi EM-200 Temma2 Guiding: external, E-finder
Filters/Exposures: L:R:G:B = 100:80:80:80min5h40m Location: Little Desert and Heathcote, Victoria, Australia
Dates: November 2013, August 2014 Processing: CCDStack2, RegiStar and Photoshop CS5