Messier 32 or M32 (also designated NGC 221) is a dwarf elliptical galaxy in the constellation Andromeda. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 8.1 and its angular diameter is 8x6 arc-minutes. M32 lies at an estimated distance of 2.9 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 0h 42.8m, Dec= +40° 52´ which makes M32 best seen during the autumn. The Messier Autumn Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.
M32 is one of two elliptical satellite galaxies of the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) visible in the image above. M32 is the closer elliptical galaxy (along the lower edge of M31) while M110 is the more distant one (upper right). Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) itself is the brightest naked-eye spiral galaxy in the sky. M31, M32 and M110 are part of the Local Group of galaxies of which includes our own Milky Way Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) and others.
In spite of its inclusion in the Messier Catalog, this dwarf elliptical galaxy was actually discovered by G. Le Gentil in 1749. According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M32 is 2.57 million light years and its diameter is 6,500 light years. Its estimated mass is 3 billion solar masses.
Messier's Description of M32
August 3, 1764
`Small nebula without stars, below and at some minutes [separation] from that of the belt of Andromeda [M31]; this small nebula is round, its light fainter than that of the belt. M. le Gentil has discovered it on October 29, 1749. M. Messier saw it, for the first time, in 1757, and he has not found any change.' (diam. 2')
- Object: M32
- Other Names: NGC 221
- Object Type: dwarf elliptical galaxy
- Object Data: Apparent Magnitude = 8.1, Angular Size = 8x6 arc-minutes
- Object Position (Equinox 2000): RA= 0h 42.8m, Dec= +40° 52´, Constellation = Andromeda
- Date/Time: 2011 Jan 23 at 03:25 UTC
- Location: Bifrost Astronomical Observatory, Portal, AZ
- Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
- Telescope: Takahashi Epsilon 180 Hyperbolic Astrograph
- Camera: Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) (modified with a Baader UV/IR filter)
- Field of View: 1.70° x 2.56° at 1.7 arc-sec/pixel (web version: 10.0 arc-sec/pixel)
- Exposure: 8 x 300s, f/2.8, ISO 800
- File Name: M31-01w.jpg
- Processing (Adobe Camera Raw): Graduated Filter, Vignetting Correction, Noise Reduction, White Balance, Curves
- Processing (Photoshop CS5): Average Images, Curves, Noise Reduction
- Original Image Size: 3454 × 5179 pixels (17.9 MP); 11.5" x 17.3" @ 300 dpi
- Rights: Copyright 2011 by Fred Espenak. All Rights Reserved. See: Image Licensing.