Galaxy M82 imaged by Shawn Nielsen
The galaxy M82 has a complex and dynamic structure, with a disk-shaped central region surrounded by a thick ring of gas and dust. This ring is in turn surrounded by an extended halo of stars and gas, which stretches out for tens of thousands of light-years.

The M82 galaxy, also known as Messier 82 or NGC 3034, is a starburst galaxy located in the Ursa Major constellation. It is a magnificent sight to behold, boasting a stunning array of features and characteristics that make it a fascinating subject for astronomers and stargazers alike. In this article, we will explore the many wonders of the M82 galaxy, including its structure, composition, history, and more.

What is the M82 Galaxy?

The M82 galaxy is a spiral galaxy located approximately 12 million light-years away from Earth. It is a member of the M81 group of galaxies, which includes several other nearby galaxies. The M82 galaxy is notable for its irregular shape, caused by the gravitational pull of its neighboring galaxies.

One of Shawn Nielsen's telescopes and camera for astrophotography
The Starfield Optics imaging telescope used to capture galaxy M82.

Characteristics and Features

The M82 galaxy is known for its intense starburst activity, which is the result of a high rate of star formation. This activity is concentrated in the galaxy’s central region, which is surrounded by a thick ring of dust and gas. The galaxy also contains several bright star clusters, as well as several supernova remnants.

The M82 galaxy is also home to a supermassive black hole at its center, which is estimated to be approximately 100 million times the mass of the Sun. This black hole is responsible for the intense radio emissions observed coming from the galaxy.

History and Discovery

The M82 galaxy was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774, and later cataloged by Charles Messier in 1781. Its irregular shape was not discovered until the early 20th century, when astronomers began to study the galaxy in more detail.

In 2005, the galaxy made headlines when a team of astronomers discovered a gamma-ray burst originating from the galaxy. This burst, known as GRB 050509B, was one of the brightest ever observed and provided valuable insights into the nature of gamma-ray bursts.


The M82 galaxy is a truly magnificent sight to behold, with its irregular shape, intense starburst activity, and supermassive black hole. It is a subject of ongoing research and study for astronomers around the world, and is sure to continue to captivate stargazers for generations to come.

Image technical:

Buying astro gear? Help support my efforts in bringing the astro community new content (videos, tutorials, tips, reviews) by using these affiliate links to purchase astro equipment. I’ll receive a small commission at no cost to you.

AstroWorld Telescopes (USA)

Agena Astro (USA)

High Point Scientific (USA)

Ontario Telescope (Canada)

All-Star Telescope (Canada)

New to Pixinsight image processing? Get in touch! I provide one-on-one lessons via Zoom.

You can also buy me a coffee via… or

Leave a comment...

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.
Verified by MonsterInsights