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Messier 77 or M77 is a barred spiral galaxy that is located about 47 million light years from Earth, in the constellation Cetus. It is also known as the galaxy NGC 1068, and was discovered by the French astronomer Pierre Méchain in the year 1780.
The M77 galaxy is one of the largest in the Messier catalog. It has a bright central area that covers about 120,000 light years, and its less bright expanses reach about 170,000 light years. M77 is a large spiral with broad structured arms, which in its internal region hosts numerous young stars. As we move away from the center of the galaxy, the yellowish color predominates, which is characteristic of an old stellar population.
M77 is classified as a Seyfert galaxy. It is a type of galaxies whose nucleus is very active. Said core causes highly ionized gas emission spectral lines. This emission is produced by the creation of matter in a supermassive black hole that is located in its center.
The central object causing the Seyfert activity in Messier 77 has a mass of around 10 million solar masses. Likewise, a giant disk of about five light years in diameter has been found that orbits this object and contains water molecules.
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