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Sunflower Galaxy - M63

Optics TEC APO 140APO with Flattener at f/7.1
Mount AstroPhysics 900GoTo
Camera Moravian G3-16200
Filters Astrodon LRGB Gen II
Date 29 Mar 2019 - 23 Apr 2020
Location Antares Observatory
SQM-L 20.0-21.0
Exposure LRGB = 18-10.7-9.7-12.3 hours
total: 50.7h
Software CCDAutoPilot / Voyager, MaxIm DL, PixInsight, Photoshop CS6
Notes 9h LRGB data was contributed from Rainer Späni (Ceres Observatory) using a setup with equal optics and camera.

M63 is located at a distance of around 29 Mio. light years (~8.9 Mpc). Together with M51 and M101 and their companions they build a chain of three groups. Also called the sunflower galaxy, its luminosity is about 2 times higher than that of the Milky Way or M31. The faint multiple arches and "plumes" on its periphery were first noticed by van der Kruit in 1979. According to photometry results of a later study by Chonis et al. (2011) the faintest arches and plumes reach SBB of 27 - 29 mag/sq. arcsec. Most probably the system of streams is a result of accretion of one or multiple dwarf satellites. The presented image shows additional faint streams extending to a diameter of ~110 kpc (360'000 light years) - at a distance of 29 Mio. light years.
Within the field of view several dwarf galaxies were found, whereas five turned out to be unknown and new candidates for M63 satellites of very low surface brightness.

The official publication of new structures found in this image is given here.

M63 preview

click here for a 35% size image, 1500x1200 (1235KB)
click here for a 67% size image, 3000x2400 (4505KB)

A luminance image was created using all data acquired. Given below are the central areas (~65 x 52 arcmin) as luminance and contrast enhanced inverted luminance (with the center of M63 inserted as positive image for scale).

M63 luminance M63 luminance inverted

A labelled image with annotated dwarf satellites can be found here.
A full scale crop of the galaxy center is given here.

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