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Sombrero Galaxy (M104)
Jordan Kirby

Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy is a spiral galaxy and is classified as a Messier object (M104). Like any other galaxy, it is a grouping of stars, dust, and gas and is characterized by its bright center surrounded by a distict halo of dust. Residing in the constellation, Virgo, the Sombrero holds around 2,000 ten to thirteen billion year-old globular clusters with a black hole at its center. It is one of the largest formations in the constellation with a mass almost equal to that of 800 million suns.

This image was done by combining three filters (Red, Green, and Blue) to create a color picture. The galaxy itself is about 50,000 light years across and has a magnitude of +8 so it is just out of the range of the naked human eye. If it were visible it would be about 1/5 the diameter of the full moon. The very defined dust ring around the galaxy's bulge of light gives it the appearance of the hat for which it is named.This phenomenon is caused by the collapse of dust and gas along a somewhate flat plane while the light of the stars in the center stays spherical. Another reason that we see the galaxy as more hat-like in this image is that there is a slight tilt downward towards the camera. We see the top of the light bulge, while the front of the dust ring obscures the bottom.

References:

"Heritage Project Celebrates Five Years of Harvesting the Best Images from Hubble Space Telescope." Hubble Site News Center. Accessed 19 April 2011. <http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2003/28/image/a/>

"The Sombrero Galaxy." Thunder Bolts.info. 12 May 2008. Accessed 19 April 2011. <http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2008/arch08/080512sombrero.htm>

Right Ascension (J2000) 12:39
Declination (J2000) -11:37
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure time per filter B, V, R, C (60 s)
Date observed March 23, 2011 UT

 

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