This is a nearby spiral galaxy, dramatically dimmed and reddened by dust in the outer disk of the Milky Way; only about 1 per cent of the galaxy's blue light reaches us. Maffei 2 is a very interesting object for study in the infrared and radio regimes, which show it to be a barred spiral galaxy with a nuclear burst of star formation (one of the nearest examples of this process). One of two such galaxies discovered by Paolo Maffei, this is within one degree of the galactic plane in Cassiopeia. Maffei 2 and the giant elliptical galaxy Maffei 1 are so close to us that some workers, such as Gene Byrd and collaborators, have calculated that these galaxies' gravitational influence might have been significant in the early history of our own Local Group galaxies.

This color composite is from images taken in blue, yellow-green, and near-infrared (BVI) filters, using a CCD at the 61-cm Burrell Schmidt telescope on Kitt Peak, by Ron Buta and Marshall McCall. The colors were balanced so that an unreddened A0 star would appear white.

For comparison, below I show a near-infrared (I band, not what the cryogenic types would call real infrared) CCD image of the inner 9-arcminute region of Maffei 2, with a monochrome intensity mapping. This wavelength starts to show hints of spiral structure and perhaps a bar, features borne out by recent images farther into the infrared. The image was taken with the Lowell Observatory 1.1-meter telescope.

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