Messier 87 is also called M87 or NGC 4486 and this elliptical supergiant galaxy’s position in the heart of Virgo Cluster, a constellation located south on Earth. It has been dubbed as “Virgo A” or Smoking Gun because it’s one of the largest galaxies that we can see from earth with its size being more than 100 times bigger than our own Milky Way Galaxy!
The jet coming from the supermassive black hole is one of the most interesting features. This long, thin stream can be seen in x-rays as well as radio emissions and even optical light, with each reaching out nearly 5500 light-years away to form a sort of shield around M87’s center.
The M87 galaxy is considered to be a “true” elliptical but doesn’t have any dust lanes or areas for star nurseries. Its believed that the original shape was derived from two other galaxies merging together long ago.
The M87 galaxy is one of the largest galaxies in our universe. There are trillions of stars and over 15,000 globular star clusters inside it! The Milky Way has only 150 globular clusters and nearing a few hundred billion stars.
The galaxy M87 stands out in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. In fact, it has 2,000 other galaxies to contend with which makes its position as reigning king all the more impressive.
The galaxy M87 is 53.5 million light-years away from Earth, but even so, it has an apparent magnitude of 9.59 which means that the brightness of this region can be more easily viewed by our eyes!
Facts about M87
- The M87 Galaxy is a large spiral galaxy that was first discovered by Charles Messier in 1781.
- There is a supermassive black hole at the heart of M87 that has 3.5 billion solar masses!
- The invisible gas in M87 is filled with materials that have been enriched by the death of stars long gone.
- Scientists believe there could be more than one supermassive black hole in the center of M87.
- The M87 Galaxy is a true elliptical galaxy.
- M87 is an energetic galaxy that has a mass of about 6,600,000,000 times the solar masses with a diameter larger than the sun and Pluto’s orbit.
- Near M87, you can see a pair of chain-like structures called Markarian’s Chain.
- The nuclear region of M87 is known as an “active galactic nucleus” because it produces other wavelengths.
- For the first time, scientists have seen a supergiant elliptical galaxy grow larger than ever before.
- Astronomers found evidence that M87 has already engulfed a smaller spiral galaxy within the last one billion years.