Messier 87

Messier 87

Messier 87 with its halo clearly visible among other members of the Virgo Cluster. Image: Wikipedia

One of the brightest radio sources in the sky, Messier 87 (also known as Virgo A or NGC 4486, generally abbreviated to M87) is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It is also a popular target for both amateur and professional astronomers.

It is located about 16.4 million parsecs (53 million light-years) from Earth.

M87 is discovered by the French astronomer Charles Messier (26 June 1730 – 12 April 1817) in 1781 and cataloged it as a nebulous feature while searching for objects that would otherwise confuse comet hunters. He is known for publishing an astronomical catalog consisting of 110 nebulae and star clusters, which came to be known as the Messier objects.

M87’s galactic envelope extends to a radius of about 150 kiloparsecs (490 thousand light-years), where it is truncated—possibly by an encounter with another galaxy.

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