|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 (sunlike 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 eminating 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.
The bottom picture is an image from HST of the jet. The two outermost portions of the stream are just barely resolved in the image above!
|L R G B color production was used to create this image.||
Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
BACK to main Best of AOP page.
Return to NOAO Home Page