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Sombrero Galaxy (M 104)
Zach Veenstra

Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy is an unbarred spiral galaxy, which means it is a flat, rotating disk containing stars, gas, and dust, and the center is circular, as opposed to a long, straight line of concentrated stars known as a bar. The name comes from the bright center, the dust ring crossing the middle of the galaxy, and the fact that we see it almost edge on. The galaxy is part of the constellation Virgo and is approximately 30% the size of the Milky Way galaxy. It was first discovered in 1781. It is unknown who actually discovered the galaxy first, as Pierre Mechain and Charles Messier both recorded seeing it around the same time. In addition, William Herschel independently found the galaxy about a year later.

This photograph showcases the three main features of the galaxy: the bright central bulge, the dark dust lane, and the glowing halo around the entire galaxy. The bulge is larger and brighter than what is typical in galaxies, which is due to a large number of spherical groups of stars orbiting a common center, known as globular clusters. The Sombrero Galaxy also contains a supermassive black hole at the center, which is one of the largest identified, having a mass 1 billion times the mass of the sun. The dust ring encloses the entire galaxy and is made up mostly of cold hydrogen gas and dust.

References:

"Sombrero Galaxy." NASA. <http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_283.html>.

Howell, Elizabeth. "Sombrero Galaxy: Hidden Double in a Hat" Space.com. <http://www.space.com/25522-sombrero-galaxy.html>

Wikipedia, "Sombrero Galaxy".

Right Ascension (J2000) 12:39:59
Declination (J2000) -11:37:23
Filters used B (Blue), C (Clear), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure x number of images for each filter All filters 90s x 7
Image dimension 518x402 pixels; 11.3x8.8 arcminutes
Date/time observed March 16, 2016, 08:19 UT
Distance 8.98 ± 0.49 Mpc (Wikipedia, Sombrero Galaxy)
Scale 2.6 kpc/arcminute

 

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