Exploring the Center of the Giant Virgo Cluster Spiral Galaxy M100 with the HST Planetary Camera 2

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Session 48 -- Spiral, Dwarf and Irregular Galaxies
Display presentation, Wednesday, 1, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[48.12] Exploring the Center of the Giant Virgo Cluster Spiral Galaxy M100 with the HST Planetary Camera 2

J. Gallagher, A. Watson (U. Wisconsin), J. Hester (ASU), J. Holtzman (Lowell Obs.), S. Hughes (Caltech), P. Scowen (ASU), W. Sparks (STScI), W. Freedman (OCIW), R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs), J. Mould (Mt. Stromlo), J. Trauger (JPL), G. Ballester (U. Michigan), C. Burrows (STScI), J. Clarke (U. Michigan), D. Crisp (JPL), R. Griffiths (Johns Hopkins), J. Hoessel (U. Wisconsin), J. Krist (STScI), P. Marcum (U. Wisconsin), K. Stapelfeldt (JPL), J. Westphal (Caltech)

The inner disk and nucleus of the Virgo Cluster giant Sc spiral galaxy M100 were observed with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the {\it Hubble Space Telescope} as an Early Release Observation. The Planetary Camera 2 CCD obtained images of the center of the galaxy in the F435W, F555W, and F702W filters with a resolution of about 0.05 arcsec, corresponding to a linear scale of 4(D/15 Mpc) pc. These now familiar images might initially be mistaken for a full-field view of an Sc galaxy due to the presence of many stellar and semi-stellar objects and a pronounced two-arm spiral dust pattern. A closer examination reveals three major structural zones in the center of M100: (1) The outer nuclear disk contains a nearly complete ring of young, luminous stars and star clusters as well as the dominant 2-arm dark lane spiral pattern. (2) In the inner quarter of the disk, luminous semi-stellar objects are rarer and the organized dust pattern breaks up into a complex of smaller filaments. (3) A distinct nucleus and probably small nuclear bulge are located at the center of the galaxy, and are also associated with a possible fainter radial dust lane pattern. We will present an initial exploration of the properties of these major structural components as well as a brief discussion of the relationship between the nuclear region and larger scale structure of this galaxy.

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