M77 ~ Cetus A Barred Spiral Galaxy
Optics:   Ritchey–Chrétien 20" F/8.2 (4166mm FL) Processing:   PixInsight, Photoshop
Camera:   SBIG STXL-11000 with Adaptive Optics Date:   September 2017
11 Megapixel (4008 x 2672 16-bit sensor) Location:   Columbus, Texas
Exposure:   LRGB = 480:120:120:120 minutes Imager:   Kent E. Biggs
Messier 77 (also M77 or NGC 1068) is a Barred Spiral Galaxy about 47 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Cetus, the whale or sea monster. It is designated as Cetus A since it was identified as the strong X-ray source 1H 0244+001 in the constellation Cetus. It is also the brightest, closest, and best studied Seyfert II type galaxy. Seyfert II galaxies are like quasars, in that their central cores are very active, but unlike quasars they have visible clouds of dust and star formation. M77 is not yet officially classified as a barred spiral galaxy in which a galaxy's spiral arms form a bar structure that pass through the nucleus. Instead, its arms appear to "spiral" all the way to the center similar to those of Whirlpool Galaxy M51. However, detailed inffrared images of the inner part of the galaxy reveal a strong bar feature not seen in visible light. Using your mouse to hover over the image, note M77's central core, outer arms as well as several other more distant galaxies highlighted.

At about 90,000 light years across, it is about the same size as our own milky way and has the mass of about a trillion suns. M77 is part of a small galaxy group that includes NGC 1055, NGC 1073 and five other small irregular galaxies. Just recently astronomers identified a cloud of spinning cosmic dust at the centre of Messier 77 which is hiding a supermassive black hole that can be seen here.

The image below is the exact same set of data and images as the image above, however using the old image processing flow. Hover over the image below to see a direct comparison of old versus new image processing flow which includes PixInsight software. The stats for M77 (also designated NGC 1068) are RA: 02h 42m 40.2s, Dec: -00°00'48", Mag: 9.6, Size: 7.1'x6.0', and Galaxy Class: (R)SA(rs)b.

M77 - Earlier Imaging and Gen1 Processing (2004)
Optics:   Celestron C11 F/10 (2800mm Focal Length) Processing:   Photoshop
Camera:   SBIG ST10XME with Adaptive Optics Date:   November 5-6, 2004
3.2 Megapixel (2184 x 1472 16-bit sensor) Location:   Columbus, Texas
Exposure:   LRGB = 120:40:40:40 minutes Imager:   Kent E. Biggs
Messier 77 is one of the brightest galaxies and is visible through almost any telescope but it is over 60 million light years from us (300 million trillion miles).  M77 is a Seyfert Type II galaxy meaning that enormous gas clouds are expanding away from the center of the galaxy at several 100 km / sec.  Its bright center is also a source of radio emissions.  Note the faint outer arms that are only visible in long exposures.  The stats for M77 are RA: 02h 42m 40.2s, Dec: -00° 00' 48", Mag: 9.6 (B), Size: 7.1'x6.0', Class: (R)SA(rs)b.