M87, NGC 4486


    M87, Magnitude 8.6 E1 Elliptical Galaxy, Constellation Virgo, Size 7.0'x8.0'


Image Details:

I didn't see M87's jet in real time, but that was because I wasn't looking for or expecting to see it. The moment its image came on the screen when I viewed the DVD I recorded at home, however, the jet was more than obvious, even more obvious than in the still above. Video provides just the right mix of sensitivity without overexposure to make this legendary feature show itself.

M87 is a monstrous, fat old spider of a galaxy, sitting near the center of the great Virgo Cluster, and promptly devouring any unfortunate galaxies that stray too close to its immense form (it's got a mass of about a TRILLION Suns). This jet, which extends thousands of light years into space, is probably the product of a massive black hole at M87's core. M87 is about 60,000,000 light years distant, and is a strong radio emitter, identified in that guise as "Virgo A."

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