Messier 82 – Cigar Galaxy

Messier 82 reaches its highest point in the sky around astronomical midnight, around February 16th. It is an irregularly shaped galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major, also known as the Cigar Galaxy due to its long, slender shape.

Messier 82 is a stunningly beautiful galaxy with bright, colorful bursts of stars and dark, intricate lanes of dust and gas that swirl and twist in mesmerizing patterns. Its distinctive cigar shape and intense star-forming activity make it a fascinating subject of study and a favorite target for amateur and professional astronomers alike.

Position and region

Messier 82 is located in the constellation Ursa Major, about 12 million light-years away from Earth. It is part of the M81 Group of galaxies, which also includes Messier 81, NGC 2403, and several other smaller galaxies. Messier 82 is a relatively small and compact galaxy, with an apparent size of about 11 by 4 arcminutes in the sky. Its position in the night sky is easily visible from the northern hemisphere during the spring months.

Unique facts

  • Messier 82 is a starburst galaxy located about 12 million light years away from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major.
  • It has a very high rate of star formation, with stars being formed at a rate of around ten times that of the Milky Way.
  • Messier 82 has a unique shape with a bright central disk surrounded by dusty filaments and star-forming regions.
  • The galaxy has been extensively studied by astronomers due to its unusual features and proximity to Earth, making it a valuable tool for understanding star formation and galaxy evolution.

Brightness and size

Messier 82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, is a bright and compact galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major, about 12 million light years away from Earth. It has an apparent visual magnitude of about 8.4 and a diameter of approximately 37,000 light years. The galaxy appears elongated and has a high surface brightness, with a bright central region that is about 5,200 light years in diameter. Overall, it is one of the brightest and most distinctive galaxies in the night sky.

Names and numbers

  • Cigar Galaxy – due to its elongated shape, resembling a cigar.
  • Messier 82 (M82) – named after Charles Messier, who catalogued it in 1781.
  • NGC 3034 – listed in the New General Catalogue (NGC) of celestial objects.
  • PGC 28655 – listed in the Principal Galaxies Catalogue.
  • UGC 5322 – listed in the Uppsala General Catalogue.