|Distance: 19,000,000 light-years (5,828 kpc)||Image Size = 6.8 x 4.8 arcmin||Visual Magnitude = 8.5|
|Visible: DSS||Visible: Color Subaru||Visible: TIE|
|Near-Infrared: 2MASS||Mid-Infrared: IRAS||Far-Infrared: IRAS|
|X-Ray: ROSAT||Ultraviolet: ASTRO-1 UIT||Radio: NVSS|
Messier 64 is a spiral galaxy the constellation of Coma Berenices. Its nickname, the Blackeye Galaxy, is derived from the prominent dust lane that is seen in visible-light images.
The color image (above left) shows a bright central nucleus that is a characteristic of spiral galaxies. The spiral arms in M64 are more tightly wound than in our own Milky Way, and are less evident in this photograph. Apart from an inclined disk, the other notable feature is a large patch of obscuring dust, primarily to the north and east (top and left) of the nucleus. The wider-angle TIE image (above center) also shows the dark dust, superimposed on the underlying bright inner disk. Some astronomers speculate that this large and asymmetric feature is a remnant from an earlier intergalactic collision with another galaxy. For a close-in look at the nucleus and the dust feature, check out this near-infrared image of Messier 64 obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. The DSS image (above right) is a longer-exposure photograph. It is more sensitive than the others, as the higher density of foreground Milky Way stars shows. The price one pays, however, for bringing out the fainter details is that the bright regions become over-exposed. Hence, the previous contrast that revealed the dust lane is lost in the brightly saturated inner disk.
The near-infrared image (above right) shows the tilted disk of Messier 64, but not the dust feature seen in the visible-light photo (above left) examined earlier. This is because near-infrared light at wavelengths of a few microns is easily able to pierce through obscuring dust. This feature is invaluable in letting astronomers peer into the dusty cocoons from which most stars are born.
The longer wavelength infrared images (above left and center) are of relatively poor spatial resolution and can only reveal the general characteristics of the spiral galaxy; namely, a bright central nucleus and surrounding disk. In both images, the brightest emission is coded as red and the faintest as blue. The mid-infrared photograph exaggerates the oblong appearance of the galaxy because of the unusual rectangular detectors used to obtain this IRAS image. In this case, the galaxy was scanned in an orientation that stretches the emission along the major axis of the galaxy. The surrounding haze of blue clouds is an artifact of the data processing used to obtain the image. The longer-wavelength far-infrared photo (above center) was obtained with detectors of a different rectangular shape, and so the stretching is less pronounced. The radio image (above right), in which red again denotes the brightest light, resembles the mid- and far-infrared pictures. In most spiral galaxies, the radio continuum and thermal infrared emission are closely correlated, both resulting primarily from young and massive stars. The surrounding blue/violet blobs are once again artifacts of data processing.