M87 and galaxy friends
The monster galaxy M87 lies in the Virgo galaxy cluster about fifty million light-years away. It is the largest, most massive galaxy in the nearby universe, and is thought to have been formed by the merging of 100 or so smaller galaxies. A super giant elliptical galaxy, M87 spans a diameter of 120,000 light years, about the same as the Milky Way. But M87 is a spheroid, not a flat spiral. So it contains close to 2.7 trillion solar masses by some estimates.
The black hole at the center of M87 is the most massive black hole for which a precise mass has been measured: the black hole on its own is an amazing 6.6 billion times the mass of our sun. Orbiting the galaxy is an abnormally large population of about 12,000 globular clusters, compared to 150-200 globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way.
The latest theories suggest that the M87 black hole grew to its massive size by merging with several other black holes.
Because of the M87 black hole’s large size and relative proximity (at least in terms of the universe) astronomers think that it could be the first black hole that they could actually “see.”
The M87 central black hole is fed by a small gas disk, and it powers a highly collimated, energetic plasma jet that penetrates the inner part of the galaxy. If you look very carefully you can see this jet pointing up at about 11 o'clock from the centre of the galaxy.
Orion Optics UK AG16 Astrograph: SBIG 11000 M: Paramount ME2 Mount
Data capture with CCD Autopilot and TheSkyX Pro, with Tpoint
Image processing with CCS Stack; Pixinsight; Photoshop CS5
L 14x 10 mins; R 8x5 mins; G & B 7x5 mins
250 mins total: 4hr 10mins, all binned 1x1