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Messier 77

NGC 1068, Arp 37, LEDA 10266, MCG+00-07-083, UGC 2188, Bennett 9, Cetus A, Messier 77, h 262, GC 600

RA: 02h 42m 40.83s
Dec: −00° 00′ 48.4″

Con: Cetus
Ch: MSA:262, U2:220, SA:10

Ref: SIMBAD

(reference key)

Type: galaxy (Seyfert 2)

Mag: B=8.91, V=?

Size: 7.585′ x 6.76′
PA: 70°

Image gallery

Photos  (2)

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Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Philosophical Transactions, 1818, William Herschel wrote: "1783, 7 feet telescope. An ill defined star, surrounded by nebulosity. 1801, 1805, 1809, 1810, 10 feet telescope. It has almost the appearance of a large stellar nebula. 1783, 1785, 1786, 20 feet telescope. Very bright; an irregular extended nucleus with milky chevelure, 3 or 4' long, near 3' broad. 1801, 1805, 1807, large 10 feet telescope. A kind of much magnified stellar cluster; it contains some bright stars in the centre. With 171 power its diameter is 1' 17 seconds; with 220 power it is 1' 36 seconds."

Birr Castle/Lord Rosse (1848-1858)

The Earl of Rosse, observing with a 72-inch f/8.8 speculum telescope, recorded this galaxy on 12 occassions. He wrote "Sketched four times. Dec 22, 1848. A blue spiral. Jan 14, 1849. Spiral. Oct 29, 1851. The central part is flatter on the following side. Nov 24, 1851. The central part is, I am nearly quite sure, spiral, sketched. Jan 13, 1852. Spiral form of centre seen. Nov 29, 1856. Details of drawing seen very well. Jan 10, 1858. I can see nothing more than is given in the sketch, which appears to me correct, though perhaps it defines too well the edges of the bright central disc."

Lassell, W. (1866)

Bibcode: [1866MmRAS..36....1L]

Sketched and described.

Webb, T.W. (1893)

In the 5th edition of Webb's Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes it is described as "one degree following Delta Cet, and a little south. Small, faintish; very near 9th mag star. . . E. of Rosse, spiral, blue."

Published comments

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part I. M.N.R.A.S., 35(5), 159.

Arp (1966)

Listed as No. 37 in Arp's "Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies" (Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 14, 1966.) He remarks "Seyfert galaxy. Small knot in arm."

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 10.5 mag galaxy. Their coded description reads R,UHISB,VFDIF RING DKLN RG P SIDE.

Sandage & Tammann (1975)

Sandage, A. & Tammann, G. A. (1975) Steps toward the Hubble constant. V - The Hubble constant from nearby galaxies and the regularity of the local velocity field. ApJ, 196, 313-328. [1975ApJ...196..313S]

(1975, Astrophysical Journal, 196, 313-328) includes this galaxy in the Cetus I (NGC 1068) Group. Members include NGC 936, NGC 1055, NGC 1068, NGC 1073, NGC 1084 & NGC 1087.

Sandage, A. (1961) The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies

This galaxy appears on page 16 of "The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies" by Allan Sandage (1961, Washington, DC).

van den Bergh, S. (1961)

(1961, Astronomical Journal, Vol 66) notes that this galaxy could be a radio source. He remarks: "Seyfert galaxy; in a small cluster."

de Vaucouleurs, G. (1975)

de Vaucouleurs, G. (1975) Nearby groups of galaxies. In: Kuiper, G. (ed) Stars and Stellar Systems. Volume 9: Galaxies and the Universe. Chapter 14, p557.

Cetus I Cloud.

Includes NGC 1052 and NGC 1068 groups.

Brightest members: NGC 1068 ( B(0) = 9.81), NGC 936 ( B(0) =11.28 ), NGC 1084 ( B(0) = 11.38), NGC 1087 ( B(0) = 11.74), NGC 1055 ( B(0) = 11.77).

("Galaxies and the Universe", Chapter 14 - Nearby Groups of Galaxies) notes that the five brightest members of the Cetus I group are NGC 1068, NGC 936, NGC 1084, NGC 1087 & NGC 1055.

de Vaucouleurs, G. et al. (1991) Third Ref. Cat. of Bright Galaxies (RC3)

This galaxy is listed in the "Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies" as being a bright Seyfert galaxy. The integrated B magnitude of the stellar system (excluding the nucleus) = 9.70, and the B magnitude of the quasi-stellar nucleus = 12.78.

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Walter Scott Houston calls M77 one of the most unusual objects in Messier's catalogue. It is a spiral galaxy a little brighter than 9th mag and about 6' in diameter. A 2-inch refractor will show it as a distinct but faint circular glow. A 4-inch changes the view to a central bright spot surrounded by a fainter, circular envelope. The tiny starlike nucleus is visible in an 8-inch scope. A 12-inch should reveal the first hints of spiral arms wrapped tightly around the core. Houston lists this as one of a clump of galaxies within a degree or two of Delta Ceti: the list is in order of increasing difficulty: NGC 1068, 1055, 1073, 1087 & NGC 1090.

Hartung, E.J. (1968) Astron.Obj.South.Tel

Hartung writes that this "fine somewhat elliptical nebula in PA 20 rises to a very bright nucleus; it is about 2' across in pleasing contrast with scattered field stars. There is definite evidence of concentric structure ... the central part .. may be seen with a 3-inch telescope."

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Burnham calls it a "bright and compact spiral galaxy of the 10th mag located 1 degree southeast of Delta Ceti. It is the chief member of a small group of galaxies which includes NGC 1055, 1073, 1087 and NGC 1090. M77 is an unusual system, containing three distinct sets of spiral arms. The bright inner spiral pattern measures only 40 x 20 arcseconds and is resolved by large telescopes into many luminous knots and condensations; in instruments as small as 4-inch aperture some of this mottled effect may be detected on very fine nights. A second, fainter spiral pattern continues out to a radius of about 50 arcseconds. Finally, long exposures reveal very faint outer arms of amorphous texture and very low surface brightness, forming a 6' diameter elliptical ring about the whole system. This galaxy and the famous Sombrero (NGC 4594) were the first two systems in which a very large red shift were deteced ... using the 24-inch refractor at Lowell Observatory in November 1913, Slipher obtained spectra with exposures of over 6.5 hours ... "

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "8.8M; 7'x 6' extent; small nebulosity surrounds bright nucleus; includes 6' diamater outer ring; see photo at HAG-16; SP GAL N1055 (12M; 5'x 1' extent) 25' to NNW is E-W slash with brighter center at S point of isoceles triangle with two 7M stars; has equatorial dust lane and 11M star 1' NNW of core."

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford notes that the galaxy can be easily found one degree southeast of Delta Ceti, and has a fainter set of arms outside the fairly bright ones visible in a 10-inch 'scope.

Bortle, John (1976)

John Bortle (Webb Society Quarterly Journal, January 1976) using 10x50 binoculars, estimates the visual magnitude as 9.1.

Gramer, Lew (IAAC)

Observer: Lew Gramer Your skills: Intermediate Date and UT of Observation: 1997-07-31/08-01, 04:45 UT Location: Savoy, MA, USA (42N, elev 700m) Site classification: rural Limiting magnitude: 7.2 (zenith) Seeing: 7 of 10 - pretty good, intermittent haze Moon up: no Instrument: 20" f/5 Tectron truss-tube dob Newtonian reflector Magnification: 70x, 210x, 420x Filters used: None Object: M77 Category: Spiral galaxy [(R)SA(rs)bP] Constellation: Cet Data: mag 8.9 size 7'x6' RA/DE: 02h43m -00o01m Description:

From M74, my predawn Fall Galaxy tour moved on to M77! A fast swing down to delta Cet, then 1o ESE to this BRIGHT, but less detailed blur. Like M74 however, M77 still shows a striking degree of "spirality", with two well-defined arms hugged in tight to the core, but a relatively smooth surface brightness otherwise. (That is, no mottling.) A bright core was apparent, with the spiral arms nicely defined as they wound all the way in nearly to the tiny, barely non-stellar nucleus at center. Again, I hope to see more of M77 as leaves yellow this year!

Clark, R.N. (1990)

See also "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" by Roger N. Clark (1990, Sky Publishing Corporation) page 86.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, using a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M77) Bright, large, little elongated, very bright middle. An 11 mag star is at the edge of the galaxy on the east side. Spiral structure is more noticeable at 135X, an arm extends out from the body of the galaxy and several dark lanes mark out spiral structure among very mottled arms. At 165X there is a stellar nucleus in the center of the bright core area. 13" Sentinel 8/10 11X80 just seen. 100X bright, pretty large, irregularly round, suddenly much brighter middle, stellar nucleus. 220X bright central oval in PA 60 has very bright stellar nucleus in the middle. Outer pretty faint shell surrounds bright central "cat's eye" oval. This compact galaxy needs high power to show detail."

Ondra, Leos (IAAC)

Dear all,

I wonder if anyone has ever attempted to observe the galaxy M77 (NGC 1068) or more exactly its nucleus through a nebular filter. The galaxy is a well known representative of Seyfert galaxies with strong nuclear emission in the forbidden blue green lines of ionized oxygen ([OIII]), otherwise typical of planetaries, so I was quite surprised to read recently in the book 'Problem In Astrophysics' by Agnes M. Clerke (1903):

'Another object of dubious relationships [the description appeared in the chapter 'Nondescript nebulae'] is Messier 77 (N.G.C. 1068), Lord Rosse's "blue spiral" in Cetus. The description intimates an anomaly, since true spirals are "white," and give a continuous spectrum. Now the colour of this object corresponds, as might have been expected, to a gaseous constitution, whether of the normal kind or in certain ways peculiar, remains to be proved.'

The Rosse's observing record (the famous 6-feet reflector was used) referred to by Clerke appeared in Phil. Trans. 151:713 (and his drawing on Plate 25, fig. 6):

'Sketched 4. Dec. 22, 1848. A blue spiral. Jan. 14, 1849. Spiral. Oct. 29, 1851. The central part is flatter on the f. [following, i.e. eastern] side. Nov. 24. 1851. The central part is, I am nearly quite sure, spiral, sketched. Jan. 13, 1852. Spiral form of the centre seen. Nov. 29, 1856. Details of drawing seen very well. Jan. 10. 1858. I can see nothing more than is given in the sketch, which appears to me correct, though perhaps it defines too well the edges of the B. [bright] central disc.'

As you can see, Lord Rosse commented on the galaxy's color only once, in the first record, and later focused his attention on the morphology instead. It's tempting to conclude that he saw the galaxy blue because of the [OIII] emission, but one must keep in mind that while the lines are quite strong, most emission come from the central region a few arcseconds across so the story is no doubt just a curiosity. Anyway, it should be interesting to try nebular filter (especially combined with high power and aperture) on the galaxy's nucleus. Spectrum or photoelectric scan published by Shields and Oke in ApJ 197:5, 1975 (Fig.2) suggests the filters should work well.

Clear skies, Leos Ondra

Martin, Nick (IAAC)

What is fun with M77 is to use a direct vision prism on it. I tried with my 20" and you could get a suggestion of the bright lines. I would like to follow that up again when I have recemented the prism, which fell apart sadly.

Nick Martin, Bonnyton House, By Ayr, Ayrshire KA6 7EW ,Scotland, UK.

Steve Gottlieb

02 42.7 -00 01

17.5: very bright, moderately large, sharp concentration with an unusually bright core, almost stellar nucleus, diffuse slightly elongated halo. Appears mottled at high power and a hint of inner arm structure. A mag 11 star is 1.3' ESE of the center. This is a Seyfert galaxy and brightest in a group.

8: intense core, faint halo.

Brian Skiff

Hubble: * 88" WNW.

AGK3: * = AGK3 -0 291 = BD -0 413: 11.1p, G0.

UGC: outer (R) in pa(70).

6cm - vis.

8cm - vsm hisfcbr spot @ 20x. * on edge. BS, 15Sep1982, Anderson Mesa.

15cm - at first there seem to be two *s, but averted vis shows a br core and f wispy haze beside m10 *. gx 1'.5x1'.

- consp @ 50x w/m10 * on ESE side, which is same brtness as *ar nuc. 140x: nuc intensely br but clrly lgr than nrby *: ~5" across; also seems about as br as *. fades vrapidly to rel f mottled oval halo elong in pa~60. SE flank reaches 2/3 distance from center to br *, ratio 4:3 length-to breadth [implies obs'd size of 2'.5x2']. outer edge seems fairly well def. BS, 9Jan1989, Anderson Mesa.

- br & sharply concen gx @ 50x/80x w/m11 * on E. 140x/195x: 1'.5x1'.25 in pa30, reaches 3/4 way to br * E. core oval 30"x20" w/br knots on NE & SW ends (pa45, not pa30). rises vsharply to *ar nuc, which remains completely *ar @ 195x, about m12.5. BS, 17Nov1993, LCO.

25cm - an intense 30" core, 3' diam and circ overall.

30cm - quite br, lying 1'.2 W and a little N of *. core 45" across, halo elong 2'x1'.8 in pa45. br sub*ar nuc. lg outer halo. impression of three light levels: halo, core, nuc. seems to be more halo to W away from *. beautiful, comet-like.

Paul Alsing

82-inch at McDonald - Observing Report

[amastro] posting, Sat Nov 25, 2006

82" telescope, McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, USA

f/13.7, 35mm Televue Panoptic (5' fov, 812x)

This Seyfert galaxy has a very chaotic nucleus, very interesting in the 82". It was a bit bigger than the 5 arc-minute FOV so you had to look all over the place to see the broad arms that showed clearly in the eyepiece. High on the list of favorites.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

2010 August 07/08, Sat/Sun

Karoo Star Party, Britstown, Northern Cape, ZA.

SQM-L 21.7

15x70 Celestron binoculars.

Located midway between Mira and Menkar, this galaxy appears as a southeast-northwest elongated glow, with an off-centre brightening to the southeast (either the nucleus or a bright star is involved there).

1984 December 26

1984 December 26: [slight dew, moonlight, soft breeze] Viewing with a 15.5-inch, 220x, it can be likened to a bright globular cluster, round with a bright core and a faint diffuse surrounding halo; like a star seen through haze. A small star lies due East, although there are no particularly bright field stars in a 1/3 degree eyepiece field.

1993 October 11

1993 October 11: 11x80 hand-held binoculars can be used to find this bright galaxy. One degree due east of Delta Ceti is a row of three 9th mag stars running northeast to southwest. Just southwest of the last star lies this galaxy, looking like a bright star with halo, or a much-compressed globular.

1995

The 6-inch f/8.6 Newtonian at 52x shows just southeast of the galaxy itself a small star, just fainter than 9th mag, completing the little row of four stars. The galaxy appears as a very bright small point of light with a milky fringe, very much like a highly concentrated globular cluster. It is easy to spot. The three most south-western stars (including the telescopic star) make an interesting sight together in the eyepiece. Each of these stars, which are evenly spaced, has a fainter companion: the southwestern one has M77 to the northwest, the next star has a smaller one southeast, and the third one (in the northeast) has a companion to the northwest (it also has a much closer companion just to the east.) These three The 9th mag star at the extreme northeast of the line is further away and has no "companion". On this night, 5th mag Nu Cet was easy with the naked eye (alt approx. 45).

Magda Streicher

1997 November 20

Location: Pietersburg. ( South 23 53. East 29 28).

Sky conditions: Very good 7 magnitude.

Instrument: Meade 12 inch (Eyepiece super 40mm).

Date: 20 November 1997.

Field of view: 52.7 arc minutes.

Small starlike galaxy looking misty and irregular. A bright star very close by combines with the nucleus giving the impression of two eyes embedded in haziness. Even the stars in the field play the game in pairs.

(no date)

12-inch f/10 SCT (EP: 2-inch 40mm SW 76x 53' fov; 2-inch 14mm UW 218x 23' fov; 2-inch 8.8mm UW 346x 15' fov)

Small round galaxy with a misty appearance and irregular in shape around a bright nucleus. The bright foreground star delta Ceti, situated close to the western edge and with low power appears associated with the nucleus, giving the impression of two wide-open eyes. Even the stars in the field play the game in pairs (76x). With a mottled brightness of about 9th magnitude, one gets the impression of a faint globular cluster rather than a galaxy. The nucleus is about 2' in diameter. Higher magnification reveals soft, barely visible wisps of nebulosity around the nucleus (218x and 346x). Named after Carl Seyfert, these objects exhibit unusually intense and variable ultraviolet emissions from a tiny star like point at their centre probably the sign of gas jamming into a super-massive black hole. M77 was also one of the first galaxies found to have a large red shift, thus implying that it was receding rapidly along our line of sight. The Earl of Rosse first noted the spiral structure in this galaxy.

Tom Bryant

2006-11-25 19:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[2h 42m 42s, -0 1' 0"] Only the center of the galaxy was seen. It looked like a fuzzy star.

2006-09-20 03:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[2h 42m 42s, -0 1' 0"] Looks like a fuzzy star. Much easier than M 74, but the outer envelope was quite invisible. The LPR filter was of no help.

Richard Ford

2013 November 2nd, Saturday

Location:Perdeberg.

Time:12:30am.

Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible.Haziness only visible on the horizon.Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian.

This galaxy has almost the shape of an oblongated egg which is both seen at 57x and 75x and that the nucleus of this galaxy is centrally condensed.In other words this galaxy is seen as a round faint smudge of light.No darker areas are noticed around this galaxy.This galaxy measures 2.7'x 2.2'.

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