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One of the "Triplets"—Galaxy M65

M65, together with its neighbors M66 and NGC 3628, forms a most conspicuous triplet of galaxies, the Leo Triplett or M66 group, located at a distance of about 35 million light years.

Although it is close to and thus under the gravitational influence of its neighbors, M65 looks like a very "normal" Sa type spiral and seems to have felt little influence. It has a prominent central lens and tightly wound spiral arms, plus a prominent dust lane marking the facing edge. The luminous disk is dominated by a smooth old stellar population. Near the lane, some knots are visible, which, according to J.D. Wray, may be associated with star forming regions. The lane may hide regions of star formation usually associated with such features in spiral galaxies.

If you were to stand in your back yard, next to your rattan garden furniture or by the metal sheds, you will not be able to see M65 with your naked eye. To see these triplets clearly you would need at least a 16-inch telescope. It is too bad they aren't visible to the naked eye so you could enjoy them while lounging on your garden furniture or while in your peaceful garden.

M65, together with its neighbor, M66, has been discovered by Charles Messier, who cataloged it on March 1, 1780, describes it as "very faint nebula without stars." Halton Arp includes M65 in his entry number 317 of his Catalogue of Peculiar Galaxies, which denotes the Leo Triplett.

M65 is a typical spiral galaxy that could be found anywhere in the local universe. M65 has tightly wrapped spiral arms and a large nuclear center. The central stars are older and redder than disk stars, which are hotter and appear more blue.

Credit: Chuck Greenberg & Scott Tucker/Adam Block/AURA/NOAO/NSF

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