M77 (NGC 1068), spiral galaxy with faint outer ring
AAO image reference AATCCD 12.     « Previous || Next »

NGC 1068, Messier 77
Top left is NE. Image width is about 7 arc min
Image and text © 1999-2002, Australian Astronomical Observatory, Photograph by S. Lee, C. Tinney and D. Malin.

M77 is a Seyfert galaxy, a class of galaxy named for Karl Seyfert who first identified galaxies with emission lines superimposed on the normal radiation from their nuclei in 1943. Such galaxies are a subset of an ill-defined species generally known as 'active galaxies' whose nuclei emit radio- and X-radiation as well as visible light. The least active of the active galaxies are the Seyferts, the most active are the quasars which are mostly so distant that they can only be distinguished from stars by their spectrum.

The common feature of these galaxy types is a small, very bright nucleus thought to host a massive black hole. In Seyferts we see this black hole (or more likely its surrounding shroud of ultra-luminous gas) more or less pole-on. In other active galaxy types at different inclinations the spectrum of the nucleus changes as we see other manifestations of the black hole's influence on its surroundings. M77 is a member of a small group of galaxies at a distance of about 40 million light years.

Entry from NGC 2000.0 (R.W. Sinnott, Ed.) © Sky Publishing Corporation, 1988:
NGC 1068  Gx 02 42.7  -00 01 s  Cet6.98.8  vB, pL, iR, sbMrrN; = M77  
For details of object position and photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number.

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