The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as M104 or NGC 4594) is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo located 28 million light years from Earth. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk. The dark dust lane and the bulge give this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero. Astronomers initially thought that the halo was small and light, indicative of a spiral galaxy. But Spitzer found that halo around the Sombrero Galaxy is larger and more massive than previously thought, indicative of a giant elliptical galaxy. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +9.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes. The large bulge, the central supermassive black hole, and the dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.
Credit NASA and ESA.
November 15th, 2012
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