M 81-82 and Integrated Flux Nebula

in Ursa Maior

M 81-82 and Integrated Flux Nebula
Éder Iván

These famous large and bright galaxies lie about 12 million light years from Earth. They locked in a gravitational struggle for the past billion years or so. Their most recent close encounter likely resulted in the enhanced spiral arms of M81 (left) and violent star forming regions in M82 (right). M82 is being so energetic, the galaxy glows in X-rays (not seen in this image). After repeated passes, in a few billion years only one galaxy will remain. From our perspective, this cosmic moment is seen through a foreground veil of the Milky Way's stars and clouds of dust. Faintly reflecting the foreground starlight, the pervasive dust clouds are relatively unexplored galactic cirrus, or integrated flux nebulae, only a few hundred light-years above the plane of the Milky Way.

It took nearly 25 hours of total exposure time to record this faint integrated-flux (IF) nebula. Data was collected over three seasons, in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The majority of the exposures were taken in March 2012 over three nights.

Image details

300/1200 Newton, 3" Wynne (1130mm effective focal length)
Home-modified Canon EOS 5DmkII
Fornax 51 + Boxdörfer DynoStar
9x50mm SkyWatcher finder scope (50/180mm), Lacerta-MGen autoguider
Exposure time, filters:
309x5 min (24 hours 45 min. total) @ ISO 1600
Location, date:
Agasvar (Mount Matra), Hungary; 5 nights of 2009, 2011 and 2012 Springs.
Observing conditions:
Transparency: 6 - 8/10, Seeing: 5 - 8/10, Temperature: +7 - +12°C
ImagesPlus, Registar, Pixinsight LE, Photoshop

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