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M82 (The Cigar Galaxy)

M82 - The Cigar Galaxy in Ursa Major M82 - The Cigar Galaxy in Ursa Major ©2021 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designations M82
RA Center 9h 55m 51.188s
DEC Center +69° 40' 40.23"
Rotation -0.679° (North is up)
Pixel Scale (as posted) 0.867 arcseconds/pixel
Exposures
LRGBHa 590'/390'/390'/400'/660'
L subframes 59 x 600" @ 1x1
R/G/B subframes 39/39/30 x 600" @ 1x1
Ha subframes 33 x 1200" @ 1x1
Total Integration 40hrs 30min
Period of Acquisition Jan 2020, Feb 2020
Location Animas, NM
Equipment
Imager SBIG STF-8300M
Telescope/Lens TS Optics N-AG12 12" Newtonian Astrograph @ f/4.56
Mount Mesu 200 Mk II
Guiding Apparatus OAG-8300
Guiding Camera QHY5L-II
Filter Wheel FW8-8300
Wide Filters Astrodon Gen II LRGB
Narrowband Filters Astrodon Ha 5nm
Accessories
Coma Corrector TS Optics 3" N-AGK3
Collimator Howie Glatter 650nm laser
Focusing Feather Touch True 3.0" with Focus Boss II
Software
Acquisition Sequence Generator Pro
Guiding PHD2
Processing PixInsight 1.8

At long last, I've completed an image from a new set of gear that I installed for remote control in Animas, New Mexico in January 2020. The system includes both a new mount and a larger 12" Newtonian scope. Compared my old trusty 8" Orion astrograph, the added focal length and resolving power I now have at my disposal shines through in this image of the ubiquitous Cigar Galaxy (M82).

As my "first light data set" from my new setup in January and February 2020, I wanted to go deep on the area under dark skies, and for good reason. It's simply breathtaking how far the starburst jets extend perpendicularly from the galaxy's plane into the dark of Bortle 1, especially when considering the galaxy itself is 18,500 light years in diameter! These starburst jets are a source of endless fascination for amateurs and professionals alike. In fact, NASA's SOFIA recently (2019) discovered through infrared astronomy that the starburst winds, already known to drive the material of those jets, also drag the galactic magnetic field perpendicular to the galaxy, thereby creating an amplified drive of this material to the extents we see in this image of the region.

As with any data set from new gear, it took a while to work through processing as I acclimated to the character of the data (and that's not considering the 2 years of no-DSO rust I had to knock off!). This turned out very pleasantly, and I'm excited to continue to improve on my dozens of upcoming data sets!

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