M65-M66 Galaxies in Leo

Nearby and bright, spiral galaxies M65 (top) and M66 stand out in this cosmic snapshot. The pair are just 35 million light-years distant and around 100,000 light-years across, about the size of our own spiral Milky Way. While both exhibit prominent dust lanes sweeping along their broad spiral arms, M66 in particular is a striking contrast in red and blue hues; the telltale pinkish glow of hydrogen gas in star forming regions and young blue star clusters. M65 and M66 make up two thirds of the well-known Leo Triplet of galaxies with warps and tidal tails (i.e. clear irregularity in the shapes of the spiral arms) due to gravitational forces that these galaxies have exerted on the others as a result of group’s past close encounters. I took this image for 12 long hours over multiple night (LRGB,51,7,7,7 of 10 minutes each).

M65 and M66

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