Messier 64. The Black Eye Galaxy.


The Black Eye Galaxy (also called Sleeping Beauty Galaxy; designated Messier 64, M64, or NGC 4826) was discovered by Edward Pigott in March 1779, and independently by Johann Elert Bode in April of the same year, as well as by Charles Messier in 1780. It has a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy's bright nucleus, giving rise to its nicknames of the "Black Eye" or "Evil Eye" galaxy. M64 is well known among amateur astronomers because of its appearance in small telescopes. It is a spiral galaxy in the Coma Berenices constellation.
At first glance, M64 seems to be a fairly normal spiral galaxy. As in the majority of galaxies, all of the stars in M64 are orbiting in the same direction, clockwise.

However, recent detailed studies have led to the remarkable discovery that the interstellar gas in the outer regions of M64 rotates in the opposite direction from the gas and stars in the inner regions. The inner region has a radius of only approximately 3,000 light-years, while the outer section extends another 40,000 light-years. This pattern is believed to trigger the creation of many new stars around the boundary separating the two regions.

A collision of two galaxies has left a merged star system with an unusual appearance as well as bizarre internal motions. Astronomers believe that the oppositely rotating gas arose when M64 absorbed a satellite galaxy that collided with it, perhaps more than one billion years ago. Active formation of new stars is occurring in the shear region where the oppositely rotating gases collide, are compressed, and contract.
The small galaxy that impinged on its neighbour has now been almost completely destroyed, its stars either merged with the main galaxy or scattered into space, but signs of the collision persist in the backward motion of gas at the outer edge of M64.
Maxim DL and CS2

10 x 200 sec.

Darks only.


Cooling temp
-30´ C


March 14th 2010

Krigslida, Stockholm, Sweden.
N59 06 52.4    E 18 03 54.5

Image aqusition
MaximDL Pro

Scope control
Maxim DL Pro

Astro Professional 110 ED

Celestron CGEM


ZS 70 Doublet + QCam 5 Guider

Focus system
Lakeside motorfocus.

Inverted B/W image