M 94 - The Croc's Eye Galaxy

Messier 94, also known as NGC 4736 or the "Cat's Eye Galaxy," is a striking spiral galaxy located in the constellation Canes Venatici, approximately 16 million light-years away from Earth. This galaxy is renowned for its peculiar properties, particularly its distinctive starburst and LINER (Low-Ionization Nuclear Emission-line Region) characteristics.

At first glance, Messier 94 appears as a classic example of a grand design spiral galaxy, with prominent spiral arms emanating from a bright central bulge. However, deeper observations reveal intriguing features that set it apart from typical spiral galaxies. One notable aspect is its intense starburst activity occurring within its inner regions. Starburst galaxies experience an exceptionally high rate of star formation, often triggered by interactions or mergers with neighboring galaxies, or by other internal mechanisms such as gravitational instabilities. In the case of Messier 94, the starburst activity is believed to be fueled by the presence of a massive molecular gas reservoir, providing the raw material necessary for the formation of new stars. These young, massive stars illuminate the inner regions of the galaxy, contributing to its distinctive appearance.

In addition to its starburst activity, Messier 94 also exhibits LINER properties in its nucleus. LINERs are regions within galaxies characterized by weak, low-ionization emission lines in their spectra. These emission lines indicate the presence of ionized gas surrounding the central supermassive black hole. The exact mechanism responsible for the LINER phenomenon in galaxies like Messier 94 remains a subject of ongoing research. While it is hypothesized that LINERs may result from processes such as shocks, radiation from hot stars, or low-level accretion onto the central black hole, the precise origin of the emission remains elusive.

Messier 94's combination of starburst and LINER properties makes it a fascinating object of study for astronomers seeking to understand the intricate interplay between galactic dynamics, star formation processes, and the influence of supermassive black holes. By probing the unique characteristics of this galaxy, researchers aim to unravel the underlying mechanisms driving its diverse and dynamic behavior, shedding light on the complex nature of galaxies throughout the universe.

Photographed from Bamberg and Heidelberg, Germany under Bortle 5 conditions.

  • Category

    Sprial Galaxy
    (R)SA(r)ab, LINER

  • Coordinates

    RA 12h 50m 53.1s
    DEC +41° 07′ 14″

  • Distance

    4.91 Mpc

  • Apparent Mag

    8.2 mag (int)

  • Equipment

    TS ONTC8 200/800 Astrograph
    Dobson 305/1500mm Skyliner FlexTube
    iOptron CEM70G
    ZWO ASI 2600mm

  • Exposure

    L: 130 x 300 s
    L(short): 16.800 x 1s
    R: 24 x 300 s
    G: 26 x 300 s
    B: 24 x 300 s
    Total Integration: 21.7 h

  • Publication Date


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