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M88 (NGC 4501)
Kenton Greene

Ghost of Jupiter

M88 is a beautiful spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. With an approximate linear diameter of about 130,000 light years and mass of about 250 billion solar masses, it is one the largest galaxies in its local group: the Virgo Galaxy cluster. M88 was first discovered and cataloged by the great 18th century astonomer, Charles Messier. On March 18, 1781, Messier discovered the Spiral Galaxy along with five others that same night, makeing M88 one of the first galaxies ever to be discovered.

M88 has an unusually bright core for a galaxy of its type. This is due to high gas concentration which is thought to be ionized because of extreme tempuratures. Immediately surrounding the bright core is a darker orange envelope. This indicates a high gas density because longer wavelengths of light, like infrared light, is unaffected by dust, while optical light on the other hand is scattered by dust. Blue light, since it has a smaller wavelength, is scattered more easily by dust than is red light, so regions with a high density of dust will appear redder. Branching out from the center of the galaxy, there are two distinct blue arms. The arms are outlined by orange with darker regions between the arms. This stucture is due to the rotation. M88 has a maximum rotaional speed of 241 km/s, much faster than our own Milky Way galaxy. Orange regions are on the front of the arms, while the bluer regions are towards the back of the arms. This pattern is caused by the dust in the front of the arms being compressed by the force of the arm’s rotation, creating denser dust regions that appear orange and darker by comparison.On the outermost edge of the arms, dark blue and purple surround the arm (most distinctly on the bottom side of the image). This effect is thought to be the product of the motion of M88 through the intergalactic medium of the Virgo cluster. This motion is creating ram pressure that is stripping away the outer region of neutral hydrogen.


Wikipedia contributors. "Messier 88." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 5 May. 2016.

Messier Objects Admins. "Messier 88" Messier Objects: Guide to the Bright Galaxies, Nebulae and Clusters Listed in the Messier Catalogue 15 August. 2015.

Messier Seds. "Messier 88" Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices 17 September. 2007.

Right Ascension (J2000) 12:32:00
Declination (J2000) +14:25:00
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure x number of images for each filter

B(60s x 5), V (60s x 5), R(60s x 5); C (60s x 5)

Image dimension 365x253 pixels; 23.8x16.1 arcminutes
Date/time observed March 17, 2016 1:30UT
Distance 14.41 ± 2.45 Mpc
Scale 4.2 kpc/arcminute



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