Messier 87 is an elliptical galaxy and is considered to be one of the best examples of this galaxy type.
|Also known as:||M87, Virgo A or NGC 4486|
|Diameter:||120,000 light years|
|Distance:||53 Million light years|
|Mass:||2,400 billion M☉|
|Number of Stars:||1 trillion|
It’s scientific designation is M87 or NGC 4486, and scientists are constantly studying it because it has a “jet” that can be seen with optical lights as well as radio emissions and x-rays.
This jet extends from the center of its supermassive black hole and continues out to around 5,000 light-years.
Like other elliptical galaxies, Messier 87 doesn’t have any evidence that stars form in it or that it has dust lanes. It’s believed that Messier 87 formed when two galaxies collided and merged.
Charles Messier discovered M87 in 1781 and cataloged it first as a nebulous feature in the sky. Since it was the 87th listing in his catalog, he gave it that number.
Later research and investigation have found that M87 is filled with gas that is enriched by the dying remnants of stars.
It does contain some dust, but not as much as is found in many other galaxies, including the Milky Way Galaxy.
At the center of M87 is the black hole that has a mass of 3.5 billion suns. The black hole is enveloped with material that is being consumed by the black hole and then heated by the jet, it’s being shot out of the black hole at high speeds.
Scientists believe that there is a possibility that there may be more than one supermassive black hole. The entire galaxy of M87 is surrounded by a hot gas corona.
The monstrous M87 is considered to be the dominant member of the Virgo galaxy cluster that has around 2,000 galaxies total.
The Hubble Space Telescope made a composite image of individual pictures with the most fascinating part of the image being the blue jet that is near its middle, as well as the globular clusters that are scattered around.
The 1999 pictures from Hubble show the jet expulsion at an optical illusion of 4-6 times the speed of light.
It is believed that the globular clusters may have accumulated due to the gravitational pull against the dwarf galaxies that are close by.
It’s believed that there are around 12,000 globular clusters which is considerably greater than the 150-200 globular clusters of the Milky Way Galaxy.
One of the other fascinating things about M87 is that not far away from it is a collection of galaxies arranged in a kind of chain-like structure that is named “Markarian’s Chain.” Anyone with a really excellent telescope can see these chains.
M87 is an elliptical galaxy but instead of being shaped in a flat spiral as so many other galaxies are, it is spheroid in shape.
It takes a very large telescope, but scientists have observed this massive giant actually growing larger.
It’s been confirmed that M87 is growing and expanding and this is due to the fact that it is consuming and devouring interstellar matter and the smaller galaxies around it.