Visible Light Image of Messier 82
Ssc2006 09a2

Credit: NOAO

Observation • March 16th, 2006 • ssc2006-09a2


The visible-light picture of the Cigar galaxy, also called Messier 82, shows only a bar of light against a dark patch of space. Longer exposures of the galaxy (not pictured here) have revealed cone-shaped clouds of hot gas above and below the galaxy's plane. Messier 82 is located about 12 million light-years away in the Ursa Major constellation. It is viewed from its side, or edge on, so it appears as a thin cigar-shaped bar. The galaxy is termed a starburst because its core is a fiery hotbed of stellar birth. A larger nearby galaxy, called Messier 81, is gravitationally interacting with Messier 82, prodding it into producing the new stars.The visible-light picture is from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, Ariz.

About the Object

Cigar GalaxyMessier 82M82NGC 3034
Galaxy > Activity > Starburst
11,700,000 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Optical 440 nm KPNO
Optical 550 nm KPNO
Optical 700 nm KPNO


Position (J2000)
RA =9h 55m 52.0s
Dec = 69° 40' 51.0"
Field of View
12.6 x 12.6 arcminutes
North is 57.3° left of vertical