Welcome back to Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our homage to our dear buddy, Tammy Plotner, by taking a look at the “Phantom Galaxy” called Messier 74!

Throughout the 18 th century, well known French astronomer Charles Messier observed the existence of a number of “ambiguous items” while surveying the night sky. Initially misinterpreting these items for comets, he started to brochure them so that others would not make the exact same error. Today, the resulting list (called the Messier Brochure) consists of over 100 items and is among the most prominent brochures of Deep Area Objects.

Among these items is the spiral nebula called Messier 74 (aka. the Phantom Galaxy) which appears face-on to observers from Earth. Found about 30 million light years from Earth in the instructions of the Pisces constellation, this galaxy steps around 95,000 light years in size (nearly as huge as the Galaxy) and is house to about 100 billion stars.


This lovely galaxy is a model of a grand-design Sc galaxy and amongst the very first “Spiral Nebulae” acknowledged by Lord Rosse. Found some 30 to 40 million light years far from us, it is gradually slipping even further away at a speed of 793 kilometers per second. Its appeal covers approximately 95,000 light years, about the exact same size as our Galaxy and its spiral arms extend over 1000 light years.

Picture of the spiral nebula Messier 74 gotten by the Hubble Area Telescope. Credits: NASA/ ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)- ESA/Hubble Collaboration/R. Chandar (University of Toledo) and J. Miller (University of Michigan)

Inside those arms are clusters of blue young stars and pinkish colored scattered gaseous nebulae called H II areas where star development is taking place. Why such a sweeping grand appeal? Possibilities are its the density waves sweeping around M74’s gaseous disk, most likely caused by gravitational interaction with surrounding galaxies. As B. Kevin Edgar discussed:

” A mathematical approach is explained which is particularly developed to deal with the characteristics of an infinitesimally this, differentially turning, gaseous disk. The approach is based upon the Piecewise Parabolic Technique (PPM), a higher-order extension of Godunov’s approach. Gravitational forces representing a direct spiral density wave in the outstanding element of a galaxy are consisted of. The estimation is Eulerian and is carried out in a consistently turning context utilizing airplane polar collaborates. The formulas are created in a precise perturbation type to clearly get rid of all big, opposing terms representing force balance in the undisturbed, axis symmetric state, enabling the precise calculation of little perturbations. The approach is preferably fit to the research study of the gaseous action to a spiral density wave in a disk galaxy. A series two-dimensional hydrodynamical designs is calculated to check the gravitational action of a uniform, isothermal, massless gaseous disk to an enforced spiral gravitational perturbation. The specifications explaining the mass circulation, rotation residential or commercial properties, and the spiral wave are based upon the galaxy NGC628 The services have shocks inside and outside co-rotation, diminishing the area around co-rotation. The rate at which this area is diminished depends highly on the strength of the enforced spiral perturbation. Prospective perturbations of 10% of higher fruit and vegetables big radial inflows. The time required for the gas to be up to the inner Linblad resonance in such designs is just a little portion of the Hubble time. The indicated fast advancement recommends that if galaxies exist with such big perturbations, either gas should be renewed from outside the galaxy or the perturbations should be temporal. Inside co-rotation with the spiral pattern, the loss of angular momentum by the gas increases the angular momentum of the stars, decreasing the wave amplitude.”

What else is concealing within? Then have a look with x-ray eyes. As Roberto Soria (et al) suggested in their 2002 research study:

” The face-on spiral nebula M74(NGC 628) was observed by XMM-Newton on 2002 February 2. In overall, 21 sources are discovered in the inner 5 ′ from the nucleus (after rejection of a couple of sources associated to foreground stars). Firmness ratios recommend that about half of them come from the galaxy. The greater luminosity end of the luminosity function is fitted by a power law of slope -0.8. This can be translated as proof of continuous star development, in example with the circulations discovered in disks of other late-type galaxies. A contrast with previous Chandra observations exposes a brand-new ultraluminous X-ray short-term (LX ~ 1.5 ×1039 ergs s-1 in the 0.3-8 keV band) about 4 ′ north of the nucleus. We discover another brilliant short-term source (LX ~ 5 ×1038 ergs s-1) about 5 ′ northwest of the nucleus. The UV and X-ray equivalents of SN 2002 ap are likewise discovered in this XMM-Newton observation; the solidity ratio of the X-ray equivalent recommends that the emission originates from the surprised circumstellar matter.”

Strategy spiral nebula M74 Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

In Messier 74’s case, absolutely nothing is stunning– including its spiral density waves. As Sakhibov and Smirnov discussed in a 2004 research study:

” The radial profile of the star-formation rate (SFR) in the galaxy NGC 628 is revealed to be regulated by a spiral-density wave. The radial profile of the speed of gas inflow into the spiral arm resembles the radial circulation of the surface area density of the SFR. The position of the corotation resonance is identified in addition to other specifications of the spiral-density wave through a Fourier analysis of the azimuthal circulation of the observed radial speeds in annular zones of the disk of NGC628 The radial profile of the surface area density of the SFR is identified utilizing the empirical SFR– direct size relation for star-formation complexes (huge HII areas) and measurements of the collaborates, H alpha fluxes, and the sizes of HII areas in NGC 628.”

We are speaking about massive star forming areas, aren’t we? And where stars form … Stars pass away. As in supernova! As Elias Brinks (et al) suggested:

” The development of huge stars, normally in (very) star clusters, their fast advancement and subsequent death as supernovae has a significant influence on their instant environments. The combined impact of outstanding winds and Supernovae, going off within fast succession and within a little volume, develops broadening bubbles of coronal gas within the neutral Interstellar medium (ISM) In spiral and (dwarf) irregular galaxies. These broadening shells in turn sweep up and compress neutral gas which can result in molecular cloud development and the start of secondary or induced star development. Star forming locations disrupt their surrounding ISM so a more “active”, in regards to star development, galaxy is anticipated to have a more inhomogeneous ISM. The star development rate in NGC 628 is 4 times greater than in NGC 3184 and two times as high as in NGC 6946, which might discuss the higher number of HI holes discovered in this galaxy. We discover that the sizes of the Hello There holes vary from 80 pc (near to the resolution limitation) to 600 pc; the growth speeds can reach 20 km s1; approximated ages are 2.5 to 35 Myr and the energies included variety from 1050 to 3.5 x 105 Z ergs. The quantity of neutral gas included is of order 104 to 106 solar masses.”

Picture Of the M74 galaxy in Infrared at 3.6 (blue), 5.8 (green) and 8.0 (red) µm. The image has actually been made by Médéric Boquien from the information obtained on the SINGS task public archives of the Spitzer Area Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Big masses … Masses that in some cases … vanish?? As Justyn R. Maund and Stephen J. Smartt discussed in a 2009 research study:

” Utilizing images from the Hubble Area Telescope and the Gemini Telescope, we validated the disappearance of the progenitors of 2 type II supernovae (SNe) and assessed the existence of other stars related to them. We discovered that the progenitor of SN 2003 gd, an M-supergiant star, is no longer observed at the SN area and identified its intrinsic brightness utilizing image subtraction strategies. The progenitor of SN 1993 J, a K-supergiant star, is likewise no longer present, however its B-supergiant binary buddy is still observed. The disappearance of the progenitors verifies that these 2 supernovae were produced by red supergiants.”

Maund and Smartt utilized a strategy where images were taken after SN 2003 gd had actually disappeared, and the progenitor star was probably missing out on, and deducted from the pre-explosion images. Anything left over at the SN position represented the genuine progenitor star. The Gemini observations of 2003 gd are displayed in Figure 1 which compares pre- and post-supernova views of the progenitor star’s area of the galaxy called M-74 or NGC 628.

” This is the very first red supergiant progenitor for a regular Type IIP supernova which has actually been revealed to have actually vanished and it’s at the low mass end of the scale for huge stars to blow up as supernovae,” stated Maund. “So, it lastly verifies that a basic forecast of a variety of outstanding advancement designs is proper.”

Developing? You betcha’. Messier 74 is continuing, regardless of its age, to mature! As A.S. Gusev (et al) suggested:

” Analysis of observed residential or commercial properties of young outstanding population in NGC 628 is performed on the basis of the contrast of the high resolution UBVRI photometry information of 127 H-alpha areas in the galaxy with the in-depth grid of the artificial evolutionary designs of outstanding systems. The in-depth grid of evolutionary designs consists of 2 routines of star development (rapid burst and a consistent star development), entire series of IMF (slope and an upper mass limitation) and age (from 1 Myr as much as 100 Myrs). The chemical abundance of the star forming areas was identified from the independent observations. The service of the reverse issue of finding of age, routine of star development, IMF specifications, and dust absorption in the star forming areas is produced with the help of an unique regularizing variance practical. Reddening evaluations are associated with galactocentric ranges of star forming areas, in conformity with a chemical abundance radial gradient stemmed from independent observations. Ages of star development complexes likewise reveal a pattern as a function of chemical structure.”

NASA’s Spitzer Area Telescope picture of the “dust factory” situated in the spiral nebula M74 The factory lies at the scene of a huge star’s explosive death, or supernova. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/B. E.K. Sugerman (STScI)

So precisely where do such big groups of young stars go to hang out and unwind? Perhaps … Simply perhaps they are attempting to form an area bar. A stellar bar, naturally! As M. S. Seigar of the Joint Astronomy Centre stated in a 2002 research study:

” We have actually acquired ground-based I, J and K band pictures of the spiral nebula, Messier 74 (NGC 628). This galaxy has actually been revealed to have a circumnuclear ring of star development from both near-infrared spectroscopy of CO absorption and sub-millimetre imaging of CO emission. Circumnuclear rings of star development are thought to exist just as an outcome of a bar capacity. We reveal proof for a weak oval distortion in the centre of M74 We utilize the outcomes of Combes & Gerin (1985) to recommend that this weak oval capacity is accountable for the circumnuclear ring of star development observed in M 74.”

History of Observation:

This amazing spiral nebula was initially found at the end of September 1780 by Pierre Mechain and after that dutifully re-observed and logged by Charles Messier on October 18, 1780.

” Nebula without stars, near the star Eta Piscium, seen by M. Mechain at the end of September 1780, and he reports: “This nebula does not include any stars; it is relatively big, extremely unknown, and very challenging to observe; one can acknowledge it with more certainty in fine, wintry conditions”. M. Messier searched for it and discovered it, as M. Mechain explains it: it has actually been compared straight with the star Eta Piscium.”

ESO’s PESSTO study picture of Messier 74, revealing the galaxy’s newest addition from late July 2013: a Type II supernova called SN2013 ej, noticeable as the brightest star at the bottom left of the image. Credit: ESO/PESSTO/S. Smartt, September second, 2013

3 years later on, Sir William Herschel would do his finest to attempt to fix what he thought to be a star cluster– and return in following years, even at the cost of his own devices.

“1799, December 28, 40 feet telescope. Really brilliant in the middle, however the brightness restricted to a really little part, and is not round; about the brilliant middle is a really faint nebulosity to a significant level. The brilliant part appears to be of resolvable kind, however my mirror has actually been hurt by condensed vapours.”

To provide Sir William credit, he was the very first to fix a few of the lots of clumps of starbirth areas to be seen in Messier 74, and the outcomes of his observations were later on validated by his own kid.

John Herschel would likewise see mottling in the structure of M74, yet Lord Rosse was the very first to choose the spiral structure. Once again, at the time the astronomers thought these condensations to be specific stars– an observation passed along as far as Emil Dreyer’s time when Messier 74 ultimately ended up being an NGC item also.

Finding Messier 74:

M74 isn’t constantly a simple item and needs dark skies and some starhopping. Attempt begining at Alpha Arietis (Hamal) and make a psychological line in between it and Beta– then on to Eta Piscium. Center your finderscope at Eta and move the view about 1.5 degrees northeast. If you choose, you can do this while browsing a broad field, low zoom eyepiece– which usually provides about a degree field of vision.

The area of Messier 74 in the Pisces constellation. Credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope publication (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg)

In a smaller sized telescope, the very first thing you will discover is Messier 74’s outstanding nucleus. This is why sometimes observer’s have trouble finding it! Think it or not, motion can in some cases assist you find fainter things, so utilizing the eyepiece to find it is an excellent observer’s “technique of the trade”. Since this spiral nebula is low surface area brightness, it does need reasonably great skies– so attempt under lots of conditions. A little telescope will expose a dirty halo around the core area, while bigger aperture will expose the spiral structure. Big field glasses under beautiful sky conditions can construct out a little faint haze!

Research Study it yourself … Who understands what you may find!

Item Call: Messier 74
Alternative Classifications: M74, NGC 628
Item Type: Sc Spiral Nebula
Constellation: Pisces
Right Ascension: 01: 36.7 (h: m)
Declination: +15: 47 (deg: m)
Range: 35000 (kly)
Visual Brightness: 9.4 (mag)
Evident Measurement: 10.2 × 9.5 (arc minutes)

We have actually composed lots of intriguing short articles about Messier Objects and globular clusters here at Universe Today. Here’s Tammy Plotner’s Intro to the Messier Items, M1– The Crab Nebula, Observing Spotlight– Whatever Took Place to Messier 71?, and David Dickison’s short articles on the 2013 and 2014 Messier Marathons.

Be to sure to have a look at our total Messier Brochure And for additional information, have a look at the SEDS Messier Database