Messier 87 Captured by ESOs Very Large Telescope

Eso_eso1907b_1024

eso_eso1907b April 10th, 2019

Credit: ESO

Messier 87 (M87) is an enormous elliptical galaxy located about 55 million light years from Earth, visible in the constellation Virgo. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781, but not identified as a galaxy until 20th Century. At double the mass of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and containing as many as ten times more stars, it is amongst the largest galaxies in the local universe. Besides its raw size, M87 has some very unique characteristics. For example, it contains an unusually high number of globular clusters: while our Milky Way contains under 200, M87 has about 12,000, which some scientists theorise it collected from its smaller neighbours. Just as with all other large galaxies, M87 has a supermassive black hole at its centre. The mass of the black hole at the centre of a galaxy is related to the mass of the galaxy overall, so it shouldnt be surprising that M87s black hole is one of the most massive known. The black hole also may explain one of the galaxys most energetic features: a relativistic jet of matter being ejected at nearly the speed of light. The black hole was the object of paradigm-shifting observations by the Event Horizon Telescope. The EHT chose the object as the target of its observations for two reasons. While the EHTs resolution is incredible, even it has its limits. As more massive black holes are also larger in diameter, M87's central black hole presented an unusually large targetmeaning that it could be imaged more easily than smaller black holes closer by. The other reason for choosing it, however, was decidedly more Earthly. M87 appears fairly close to the celestial equator when viewed from our planet, making it visible in most of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This maximised the number of telescopes in the EHT that could observe it, increasing the resolution of the final image. This image was captured by FORS2 on ESOs Very Large Telescope as part of the Cosmic Gems programme, an outreach initiative that uses ESO telescopes to produce images of interesting, intriguing or visually attractive objects for the purposes of education and public outreach. The programme makes use of telescope time that cannot be used for science observations, andproduces breathtaking images of some of the most striking objects in the night sky. In case the data collected could be useful for future scientific purposes, these observations are saved and made available to astronomers through the ESO Science Archive.

Provider: European Southern Observatory

Image Source: https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1907b/

Curator: European Southern Observatory, Garching bei München, None, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Messier 87
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Component > Central Black Hole
Eso_eso1907b_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 12h 30m 49.3s
DEC = 12° 23’ 29.4”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
6.9 x 7.0 arcminutes
Constellation
Virgo

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue VLT (FORS2) Optical (b) 440.0 nm
Green VLT (FORS2) Optical (v) 557.0 nm
Red VLT (FORS2) Optical (R) 655.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Eso_eso1907b_1280
×
ID
eso1907b
Subject Category
C.5.4.6  
Subject Name
Messier 87
Credits
ESO
Release Date
2019-04-10T15:07:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1907b/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope, Very Large Telescope
Instrument
FORS2, FORS2, FORS2
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
b, v, R
Central Wavelength
440, 557, 655
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
None, None, None
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
187.705387151, 12.3914950339
Reference Dimension
1646.0, 1666.0
Reference Pixel
823.0, 833.0
Scale
-7.00336709881e-05, 7.00336709881e-05
Rotation
-0
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
European Southern Observatory
URL
https://www.eso.org
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
None
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
European Southern Observatory
Publisher ID
eso
Resource ID
eso1907b
Metadata Date
2019-04-04T15:49:55+02:00
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.