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  M81 Group, M81, M82 and Holmberg IX  
M81 Group, M81, M82 and Holmberg IX
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  Ebenwaldhöhe, 8. February 2008, 22:00
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  At a distance of only 12 million light-years, the M81 group is one of the nearest galaxy groups to our Local Group.

This image shows the spiral galaxy Messier 81 (left) with its irregular dwarf satellite galaxy Holmberg IX and the starburst galaxy Messier 82 (right). A few tens of million years ago, a close encounter occurred between M81 and the irregular galaxy M82, deforming M82 to its present distorted shape - hence the name "Cigar Galaxy".

The red jets visible in M82 are the brightest parts of the so called infrared excess making M82 the brightest galaxy observable in infrared.

The red regions in the spiral arms of M81 are emissions from interstellar dust heated by blue stars from the surrounding star formation regions.
  This picture was chosen as Astronomy Picture of the Day on 25th March 2008.
 Instrument:Pentax 75 SDHF
 Camera:Atik 16HR
 Mount:Vixen GP-DX
 Exposure:L 14x10min, Ha 14x10min + 12x3min for each RGB
 Conditions:good seeing, mag 6+ sky, -7° C
 Image Processing:Iris, Photoshop, Fitswork