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M 100

Spiral Galaxy M100 (NGC 4321), type Sc, in Coma Berenices

Right Ascension 12 : 22.9 (h:m)
Declination +15 : 49 (deg:m)
Distance 60000 (kly)
Visual Brightness 9.3 (mag)
Apparent Dimension 7x6 (arc min)

Discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781.

The galaxy M100 is one of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. The galaxy is in the spring constellation Coma Berenices and can be seen through a moderate-sized amateur telescope. M100 is spiral shaped, like our Milky Way, and tilted nearly face-on as seen from earth. The galaxy has two prominent arms of bright blue stars and several fainter arms. The blue stars in the arms are young hot and massive stars which formed recently from density perturbations caused by interactions with neighboring galaxies which are lying just outside our image. Despite its nearly perfect symmetric outline, this galaxy appears slightly asymmetric, as on the southern (lower) side of the nucleus more (or brighter) young stars have formed. Our photograph of this magnificient grand-design spiral was obtained by David Malin of the Anglo-Australian Observatory; interested readers may obtain more detailed informations on this image. From the same original plates by the Anglo-Australian Telescope, David Malin has provided more images of M100 showing also its dwarf neighbors.

Deep photographs of M100 have revealed that this galaxy is actually much larger than shown in conventional photographs. Therefore, a significant part of the galaxy's mass may lie in the faint outer regions and escape its discovery in conventional images.

M100 has been imaged extensively by the Hubble Space Telescope, which finally led to the discovery of over 20 Cepheids and a distance determination of 56+/-6 million light years for M100, the first considerably reliable distance determination of a Virgo cluster galaxy. The high improvement of photographic resolution by the HST may be noticed in this comparison of HST to average quality KPNO 2.1m-photos.

In the inner disk of M100 has been investigated by Nasa's Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope on its Astro-1 Space Shuttle mission. Intense star formation activity was found to take place in a ring of starburst activity along the periphery of the galaxy's innermost spiral arms.

Amateurs can see the central regions of this galaxy as faint elliptical patch of uneven texture in small telescopes, or even in good binoculars. Under good observing conditions, suggestions of the inner spiral arms can be glimpsed in telescopes starting at 4 inch aperture (refractor or unobstructed reflector). Photos reveal the grand design spiral structure, as seen in every picture from our collection of amateur images of M100.

Four supernovae have been observed in M100:

  • Historical Observations and Descriptions of M100
  • AAT images of M100
  • HST images of M100, More HST images
  • UIT images of M100 in the Ultraviolet
  • More images of M100
  • Amateur images of M100

  • Multispectral Image Collection of M100, SIRTF Multiwavelength Messier Museum
  • SIMBAD Data of M100
  • NED Data of M100
  • Observing Reports for M100 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

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

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    Last Modification: 9 Dec 1999, 22:59 MET