M104 Spitzer Sombrero Galaxy
In infrared

M104 Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared
M104 Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared
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Product Description

This floating ring is the size of a galaxy. In fact, it is part of the photogenic Sombrero Galaxy, one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The dark band of dust that obscures the mid-section of the Sombrero Galaxy in optical light actually glows brightly in infrared light. The above image, digitally sharpened, shows the infrared glow, recently recorded by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, superposed in false-color on an existing image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in optical light. The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as M104, spans about 50,000 light years across and lies 28 million light years away. M104 can be seen with a small telescope in the direction of the constellation Virgo.

Credit: R. Kennicutt (Steward Obs.) et al., SSC, JPL, Caltech, NASA

Text: APOD March 11, 2012

The galaxy, called Messier 104, is commonly known as the Sombrero galaxy because in visible light it resembles a broad-brimmed Mexican hat called a sombrero. The new Sombrero picture combines a recent infrared observation from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope with a well-known visible light image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Spitzer adds new detail to the galaxy's bright, bulbous core and its thick, outer dust lanes. Infrared light traces the dust and makes the dark, murky ring glow brilliantly. The clumpy dust ring also becomes transparent in infrared. This allows a clear view of the inner disk of stars within the dust ring.

The Sombrero is one of the most massive objects at the southern edge of the Virgo cluster of galaxies. It is equal in size to 800 billion suns. This spiral galaxy is located 28 million light-years away and is 50,000 light-years across. Viewed from Earth, it is just six degrees away from its equatorial plane.
Text: Spitzer