The Sombrero Galaxy, one of the more unusual-looking barred spiral galaxies, owes its name to its resemblance to the Mexican hat. The galaxy has a large central bulge and bright nucleus, but its appearance is due to our seeing the spiral arms from an angle. The dust lane that circles this part of the sky – which we know as a ring encircling its center – helps form the shape we see in these images on Earth. The Sombrero Galaxy is located in the constellation of Virgo and its estimated distance from Earth is 29 million light-years.
Facts About The Sombrero Galaxy
- The Sombrero Galaxy is a galaxy that may not be part of a formal group but could belong to an extended string that stretches away from the Virgo Cluster.
- The Sombrero Galaxy is home to over 2,000 globular clusters. They swarm around the core of this galaxy and are related in size to its central bulge.
- At the heart of every galaxy lies a black hole. The Sombrero has its own, and it is one with some weight to throw around. Weighing in at over a billion solar masses!
- If you’re looking for a challenge, try your hand at spotting the Sombrero Galaxy. It’s one of many galaxies in our galaxy and it can easily be seen with binoculars!
- The Sombrero Galaxy is one of the brightest galaxies in our night sky with an apparent magnitude (brightness) of around 9.0.
- The Hubble Space Telescope, which is powerful enough to see the Sombrero Galaxy in infrared wavelengths and capture images of star birth regions near its outer ring.
- The Sombrero Galaxy is a galaxy in the center of our own Milky Way. It looks as it does partly because we are viewing it “edge-on” from our point of view here on Earth.
- The Sombrero Galaxy is about 3/10 the size of our own Milky Way!
- The Sombrero has 10-13 billion-year-old globular clusters, like the Milky Way.
- The Sombrero Galaxy is a newly-added masterpiece of the sky. Discovered in 1781 by Pierre Méchain, it was not officially added to the Messier Catalogue until 1921 and has been called “the most perfect spiral galaxy.”
- Messier and Herschel, both astronomers, were also associated with the discovery of this galaxy.
- Both the original version and TV show, The Outer Limits end with a black and white photograph of this Sombrero Galaxy.
- The Sombrero Galaxy is often called Messier Object 104, M104, and NGC 4594.
- NASA has recently discovered a new galaxy that is accompanying the Sombrero Galaxy.
Sombrero Galaxy Profile
|Designation:||NGC 4594 or M104|
|Mass:||800 billion M☉ = the mass of the sun|
|When it was discovered:||1781|
|Estimated number of stars:||Several hundred billion|
Sombrero Galaxy Characteristics
Pierre Méchain was the first to describe the Sombrero Galaxy in 1781, but it wasn’t formally added until 1921. William Herschel and Charles Messier were also among the first astronomers to describe it.
In 1781, Messier had written a note about the Galaxy and five other objects that he intended to add to an astronomical object list.
The French astronomer Camille Flammarion (1842 – 1925) found Messier’s notes about his later finds, including the Sombrero Galaxy, and added them to the Messier Catalogue. In keeping with the catalog’s format, he dubbed it M104.
The Sombrero galaxy is known for its high number of globular clusters. The ratio between the total luminosity and the number of globulars is unmatched by other galaxies like our Milky Way.
The Sombrero Galaxy is a great place to see the wonders of interstellar dust. The primary site where stars are formed in this galaxy resides inside its vast outline of dust ring and lane, which contains most cold atomic hydrogen gas and all that we can observe as stellar light from within the dark area’s center.
Sombrero Galaxy Information
The Sombrero Galaxy is located at around 31.1 million light-years away from our Solar System and resides in the zodiacal constellation of Virgo, between the borders with Corvus, a celestial crow.
The Sombrero Galaxy is one of the most well-known galaxies in our universe. Its size, at 30% that of our Milky Way galaxy with a diameter around 49,000 light-years or 15 kiloparsecs (or 30000 trillion kilometers!), can be best seen when looking upon (during the month of May) such an immensely dark night.
Why is the Sombrero Galaxy Called the Sombrero Galaxy?
The Sombrero Galaxy, Messier 104, is one of the most interesting galaxies in our sky. It features a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk and an unusually large central bulge that gives this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero hat.