Best of AOP - Galaxies

M87

In the heart of the Virgo cluster of galaxies lies a giant- and in its heart lies a monster. This elliptical galaxy is larger than our galaxy as it is 120,000 light years in diameter. However, since it is spherical in volume astronomers estimate that this ball of stars weighs in at over 2 trillion solar masses (of sun-like stars!). In this image many small fuzzy balls surround the galaxy. Each of these is a globular cluster which contains hundreds of thousands of stars. And finally the seemingly innocuous spike emanating from the core of the galaxy is a luminous stream of accelerated gas (almost the speed of light) having been driven from a black hole in the heart of M87. There are many companion galaxies that orbit this overbearing galaxy.

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Last Updated: 20-Feb-2014

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About This Image

Click on image for larger version.

Equipment

20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.1

Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount

SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

LRGB color production was used to create this image.

Very short exposure. Taken when M87 was very low (35 degrees in altitude and setting). 

Two iterations of L-R deconvolution (sharpening) algorithm using CCDsharp were applied to the luminance image.

Digital Development (DDP) via Maxim/DL was also used in order to display the very dim and very bright details of

the image simultaneously.

Luminance = 30 minutes binned 1x1

Red = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Green = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Blue = 10 minutes binned 2x2

Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF