M74 is a striking 10th magnitude galaxy in Pisces, approximately thirty-two million light years from Earth. It is a prominent
grand design spiral galaxy, with about 100 billion stars (slightly fewer than our Milky Way is thought to have).
It has a diameter of approximately 80,000 light years (also a bit less than our Milky Way). The uncropped field is about the angular size of a full moon.
Many galaxies have a super-massive black hole in their center; unusually, scientists believe that they have found a medium-sized black hole out in one of the arms of M74, perhaps from a collapsed star cluster. You can read about it here.
As with most images, this one has dozens of background galaxies (the oblong or large, dim--compared to the brightest stars--objects in the background; there's even a recognizable barred-spiral galaxy near the bottom of the image close to the center). We live in a universe consisting of hundreds of billions of galaxies; they really are all over!
This is a very dim galaxy, appearing only as a tiny blob though a moderate-sized telescope. Its low surface brightness makes it a challenging object to image. I had imaged M74 thirteen years earlier from my yard; impressed by how poor my results were then, I put a huge amount of exposure time into this image. If you want to compare that image to this one, click here.
Copyright 2019 Mark de Regt