AAO image reference AAT 60. « Previous || Next »
Top left is NE. Image width is about 8 arc min
Image and text © 1987-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.
Messier 87 (NGC 4486) is at the heart of the cluster of galaxies in Virgo and has a mass many times that of the Milky Way, itself no lightweight. Unlike our galaxy however, M87 is an elliptical galaxy. Though it appears more-or-less spherical on this photograph, a deep image shows it to be markedly elongated. Also unlike the Milky Way, M87 contains relatively little gas and dust. It is composed mainly of cool stars, which gives it a yellowish colour, in contrast to the blue of spiral galaxies. Despite the lack of star-forming materials, M87 is not a quiescent backwater. It is a powerful source of radio waves and the orbits of stars near its nucleus suggest they are held by a very massive, extremely compact core. Also, from the nucleus (but not seen here) extends a curious jet, all of which suggests that a massive black hole is hidden in the bright core of the galaxy.
AAT 53 . Messier 87 (NGC 4486) and its globular clusters
UKS 31. M84, M86 and M87, and Markarian's Chain in Virgo
n4486_d NGC 4486 (M87), deep image
Constellation of Virgo (external site)
For details of photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number.
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