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M87: Eliptical Galaxy in Virgo

RA = 12 hrs 30 min; Dec = 12 deg 23 min

Date & Site:

Imaged on 3/11/2013; Little Blair Valley, Anza Desert, CA

Conditions: calm; 40 degrees; average seeing


Telescope: TEC 140 Refractor (F7 980 mm fl)
Mount: Losmandy G-11 with Gemini
Camera: ST-10XME; CFW10; prime focus guided


Exposures: 2 hrs luminance (12 x10 min exposures); 45 min each of RGB (9 x 5 min exposures) 1x1 binned: total of 4 hours. I included only the color data as these filters helped preserve the core and jet.

FOV = 52 x 35 arc minutes

In 1947, a prominent radio source was identified overlapping the location of M87, and this was labeled Virgo-A. This source was confirmed to be M87 by 1953, and the linear jet of hydrogen gas emerging from the core of this extragalactic nebula was suggested as the cause. At the core of this galaxy is a supermassive black hole with an estimated diameter larger than the orbit of Pluto. Surrounding the black hole is a rotating disk of ionized gas that is oriented roughly perpendicular to the jet stream. This disk is rotating at velocities of up to roughly 1,000 km/s. The jet stream extends 5,000 light years.

This image was processed to reveal the jet (oriented at 10:00 in this image). The image also shows multiple dim galaxies within the Virgo cluster

Click here to see a Hubble image of the jet emerging from the core of M87.

54 million ly distant

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