The Big Picture: The ultra-photogenic and well-named Sombrero Galaxy.

CREDIT: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA).

The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as Messier 104 or M104, is one of the most fascinating objects in the night sky. Located about 28 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo, it’s a beautiful spiral galaxy that’s easily recognizable due to its distinct shape, which resembles a sombrero hat.

The Sombrero Galaxy is about 50,000 light-years across, making it slightly smaller than our Milky Way galaxy. It has a bright central bulge surrounded by a wide, flat disk that’s tilted at an angle of about 60 degrees to our line of sight. This orientation gives the galaxy its characteristic sombrero-like appearance, with a dark dust lane obscuring its central bulge.

The galaxy is home to a supermassive black hole at its center, which is estimated to have a mass of about 1 billion times that of the Sun. It also has a significant population of globular clusters, which are tightly packed groups of stars that orbit around the galaxy’s center.

Despite its relatively close distance to us, the Sombrero Galaxy is not visible to the naked eye due to its low surface brightness. However, it’s a popular target for amateur astronomers with telescopes, who can observe its bright central bulge and faint outer disk.

The Sombrero Galaxy has been studied extensively by astronomers over the years, and it has provided important insights into the formation and evolution of galaxies. Its unique shape and properties have also made it a favorite subject for astrophotography.

Success! You're on the list.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: