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M 66

Spiral Galaxy M66 (NGC 3627), type Sb, in Leo

in the Leo Triplett

Right Ascension 11 : 20.2 (h:m)
Declination +12 : 59 (deg:m)
Distance 35000 (kly)
Visual Brightness 8.9 (mag)
Apparent Dimension 8x2.5 (arc min)

Discovered 1780 by Pierre Méchain.

M66, together with its neighbors M65 and NGC 3628, forms a most conspicuous triplet of galaxies, the Leo Triplett or M66 group, located at a distance of about 35 million light years.

M66 is considerably larger than its neighbor, M65, and has a well developed but not well defined central bulge, and is therefore classified Sb. Obviously its spiral arms are deformed, probably because of the encounters with its neighbors. They seem to be distorted and displaced above the plane of the galaxy. Note how one of the spiral arms seems to pass over the left side of the central bulge. Much dust is visible here, as well as a few pink nebulae, signs of star formation, near the end of one of the arms.

This image was obtained by David Malin with the Anglo Australian Telescope, and is copyrighted. More information on this image is available.

Three supernovae have appeared in this galaxy:

Halton Arp has included M66 in his Catalogue of Peculiar Galaxies as entry No. 16. Moreover, he assigned the number 317 to the Leo Triplett (M66 together with M65 and NGC 3628).

  • Historical Observations and Descriptions of M66
  • More images of M66
  • Amateur images of M66
  • More images of M65 and M66, sometimes including NGC 3628 (the whole Leo Triplett)

  • SIMBAD Data of M66
  • NED Data of M66
  • Observing Reports for M66 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert (spider@seds.org)
    Christine Kronberg (smil@lrz.uni-muenchen.de)

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    Last Modification: 9 Dec 1999, 22:58 MET