Messier 65

Messier 65 is a member of the Leo Triplet of galaxies.


35 million light-years

Apparent Magnitude




object type

Spiral Galaxy

The 1st of March 1780 was a particularly productive night for Charles Messier. Combing the constellation of Leo for additions to his grand astronomical catalogue, he struck on not one, but two, new objects. One of those objects is seen here: Messier 65. "Nebula discovered in Leo: It is very faint and contains no star," he jotted down in his notebook. But he was wrong — as we now know, Messier 65 is a spiral galaxy containing billions upon billions of stars. All Messier saw was a faint diffuse light, nothing like the fine detail here, so we can forgive his mistake. If he had had access to a telescope like Hubble, he could have spied these stunning, tightly wound purple spiral arms and dark dust lanes, encircling a bright centre crammed with stars. Almost exactly 233 years later in March of this year, one of the stars within Messier 65 went supernova (not seen in this image), rivalling the rest of the entire galaxy in brightness. This, the first Messier supernova of 2013, is now fading, and the serene beauty of M65 is returning.
ESA/Hubble & NASA

M65 is a spiral galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 10.3. Charles Messier discovered it and its neighbor M66 on the same night in 1780. Located roughly 35 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo, M65 is a member of the Leo Triplet of galaxies. It can be spotted with a small telescope in the same field of view as the other members of the triplet (M66 and NGC 3628). The best time to observe M65 is in April.

This image of M65’s center is a composite created using exposures taken with Hubble at both visible and infrared wavelengths. Its stair-step appearance results from the design of the camera used to take the exposures. The camera consisted of four light detectors, one of which provided a higher resolution but had a smaller field of view than the other three. Because the detector with the higher resolution did not cover as much area as the others, black regions remain when the images from all four detectors are combined into one picture.

For more information about Hubble’s observations of M65, see:

locator star chart for M65
This star chart for M65 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium

Explore Hubble's Messier Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Messier objects.

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Messier 1 (The Crab Nebula)

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Messier 2

Hubble's image of Messier 2 is comprised of visible and infrared wavelengths of light.

Hubble view of M3 - a ball of thousands of stars.

Messier 3

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