Messier 87 Facts

Messier 87 Facts
Messier 87, also referred to the abbreviation M87, is a supergiant elliptical galaxy. It is the largest galaxy within the northern Virgo Cluster that is about 53.5 million light years (16.4 million parsecs) away from Earth. M87 contains about 12,000 globular clusters compared to the 150-200 orbiting the Milky Way. The entire cluster is a collection of several thousand galaxies and it moves through the universe together. It is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky and is a popular target for both professional astronomy study and amateur astronomy observations.
Interesting Messier 87 Facts:
The M87 Galaxy was first discovered by Charles Messier in 1781. He published a catalogue of 103 objects that had a nebulous appearance. He was looking to identify objects that might be confused with comets. Messier cataloged M87 as a nebulous feature of the sky. It was catalogued as Messier 87 because it was the eighty-seventh member of his catalogue.
There is a supermassive black hole at the heart of M87 that has the mass of about 3.5 billion Suns. This object is a strong source of multiwavelength radiation, particularly radio waves. Between the stars is a diffuse interstellar medium of gas that has been chemically enriched by elements emitted from evolved stars.
It has a jet of energetic plasma that originates at the core and extends outward at least 4,900 light years (1,500 parsecs), travelling at a relativistic speed. Viewing the jet is a challenge without the aid of photography, however it has been observed in larger amateur telescopes under excellent conditions.
Scientists believe it is possible that the core of M87 has more than one supermassive black hole.
The M87 Galaxy is a true elliptical galaxy. It is a super massive elliptical galaxy sitting in the Virgo constellation.
M87 has a mass of about 6,600,000,000 times the mass of the Sun with a diameter larger than the Sun with a diameter larger than the orbit of Pluto.
Near M87 is a collection of galaxies arrayed in a pair of chain-like structures called Markarian's Chain. These structures are visible to amateur observers with good-sized telescopes.
The interstellar medium in M87 is filled with gas that has been enriched by materials from stars that died many years ago. There is dust in the galaxy, however far less than the amount the Milky Way contains. It is surrounded by a corona of hot gas.
M87 is one of the most massive galaxies to be sitting in our universe. It spans a diameter 120,000 light years which is about the same as the Milky Way. But M87 is not a flat spiral, it is a spheroid.
Through a very large telescope, scientists have observed the supergiant elliptical galaxy grow larger than ever before. Scientists have confirmed that M87 is expanding and growing as it absorbs concentrations of interstellar matter and devouring smaller galaxies.
Astronomers found evidence that M87 is already merging with a smaller spiral galaxy in the last one billion years.


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