Messier 61

Coordinates: Sky map 12h 21m 54.9s, +04° 28′ 25″
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Messier 61[1]
A hungry starburst galaxy.jpg
Image taken by Hubble Space Telescope, April 28, 2014[2]
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: Det58
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Right ascension12h 21m 54.9s[3]
Declination+04° 28′ 25″[3]
Helio radial velocity1566±2 km/s[3]
Galactocentric velocity1483±4 km/s[3]
Distance52.5 ± 2.3 Mly (16.10 ± 0.71 Mpc)
Apparent magnitude (V)9.7[4]
TypeSAB(rs)bc,[3] HIISy2[3]
Apparent size (V)6.5 × 5.8 arcmin[3]
Other designations
NGC 4303,[3] UGC 07420,[3] PGC 040001,[3]
MCG +01-32-022,[3] GC 2878
References: SIMBAD: Search M61

Messier 61 (also known as M61 or NGC 4303) is an intermediate barred spiral galaxy in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It was first discovered by Barnaba Oriani on May 5, 1779, six days before Charles Messier discovered the same galaxy. Messier had observed it on the same night as Oriani but had mistaken it for a comet.[5] Its distance has been estimated to be 45.61 million light years from the Milky Way Galaxy. It is a member of the M61 Group of galaxies, which is a member of the Virgo II Groups, a series of galaxies and galaxy clusters strung out from the southern edge of the Virgo Supercluster.[6]


M61 is one of the largest members of Virgo Cluster, and belongs to a smaller subgroup known as the S Cloud.[7][8] The morphological classification of SAB(rs)bc[3] indicates a weakly-barred spiral (SAB) with the suggestion of a ring structure (rs) and moderate to loosely wound spiral arms.[9] It has an active galactic nucleus[10] and is classified as a starburst galaxy containing a massive nuclear star cluster with an estimated mass of 105 solar masses and an age of 4 million years,[11] as well as a central candidate supermassive black hole weighing around 5×106 M solar masses.[12] It cohabits with an older massive star cluster as well as a likely older starburst.[11] Evidence of significant star formation and active bright nebulae appears across M61's disk.[13] Unlike most late-type spiral galaxies within the Virgo Cluster, M61 shows an unusual abundance of neutral hydrogen (H I).[14]

Extragalactic supernovae[edit]

Eight extragalactic supernovae have so far been observed in M61, making it one of the most prodigious galaxies for such cataclysmic events.[15][16][5] These include: SN 2020jfo,[17] SN 2014dt, SN 2008in, SN 2006ov, SN 1999gn, SN 1964F, SN 1961I,[16] and the first to be observed, the Type II-K SN 1926A, which appeared on 9 May 1926.[16][18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tschöke, D.; Hensler, G.; Junkes, N. (2000). "X-rays from the barred galaxy NGC 4303". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 360 (2): 447–456. arXiv:astro-ph/0006361. Bibcode:2000A&A...360..447T.
  2. ^ "A hungry starburst galaxy". ESA/Hubble Picture of the Week. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". Results for M 61. Retrieved 2006-11-18.
  4. ^ "Messier 61". SEDS Messier Catalog. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Messier 61". Archived from the original on 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
  6. ^ "The Virgo III Groups". Atlas of the Universe. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  7. ^ "Galaxy On Line Database Milano Network (GOLDMine)". Archived from the original on 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  8. ^ "The Virgo Cluster". Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  9. ^ de Vaucouleurs, Gérard (April 1963). "Revised Classification of 1500 Bright Galaxies". Astrophysical Journal Supplement. 8: 31. Bibcode:1963ApJS....8...31D. doi:10.1086/190084.
  10. ^ Jiménez-Bailón, E.; Santos-Lleó, M.; Mas-Hesse, J. M.; Guainazzi, M.; Colina, L.; Cerviño, M.; González Delgado, Rosa M. (2003). "Nuclear Activity and Massive Star Formation in the Low-Luminosity Active Galactic Nucleus NGC 4303: Chandra X-Ray Observations". The Astrophysical Journal. 593 (1): 127–141. arXiv:astro-ph/0304465. Bibcode:2003ApJ...593..127J. doi:10.1086/376554. S2CID 12969809.
  11. ^ a b Colina, L.; Gonzalez Delgado, R.; Mas-Hesse, J. Miguel; Leitherer, C.; Jimenez Bailon, E. (2002). "Detection of a Super-Star Cluster as the Ionizing Source in the Low-Luminosity Active Galactic Nucleus NGC 4303". The Astrophysical Journal. 579 (2): 545–553. Bibcode:2002ApJ...579..545C. doi:10.1086/342839.
  12. ^ Pastorini, G.; Marconi, A.; Capetti, A.; Axon, D. J.; Alonso-Herrero, A.; Atkinson, J.; Batcheldor, D.; Carollo, C. M.; Collett, J.; Dressel, L.; Hughes, M. A.; Macchetto, D.; Maciejewski, W.; Sparks, W.; van der Marel, R. (2007). "Supermassive black holes in the Sbc spiral galaxies NGC 3310, NGC 4303 and NGC 4258". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 469 (2): 405–423. arXiv:astro-ph/0703149. Bibcode:2007A&A...469..405P. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066784. S2CID 849621.
  13. ^ Koopmann, R.; Kenney, J. D. P. (2004). "Hα Morphologies and Environmental Effects in Virgo Cluster Spiral Galaxies". The Astrophysical Journal. 613 (2): 866–885. arXiv:astro-ph/0406243. Bibcode:2004ApJ...613..866K. doi:10.1086/423191. S2CID 17519217.
  14. ^ Kenney, J. D.; Young, J. S. (1986). "CO in H I-deficient Virgo cluster spiral galaxies". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 301: L13–L17. Bibcode:1986ApJ...301L..13K. doi:10.1086/184614.
  15. ^ Supernovae which have been observed in Messier catalog galaxies
  16. ^ a b c "List of Supernovae". Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. Retrieved 2011-07-03.
  17. ^ "SN 2020jfo". Transient Name Server. IAU. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  18. ^ Boffi, F.R.; Sparks, W.B.; Macchetto, F.D. (1999). "A search for candidate light echoes: Photometry of supernova environments". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series. 138 (2): 253–266. arXiv:astro-ph/9906206. Bibcode:1999A&AS..138..253B. doi:10.1051/aas:1999274. S2CID 17688690.
  19. ^ "A portrait of a beauty". Retrieved 7 January 2019.

External links[edit]