Messier 86 – the NGC 4406 Elliptical Galaxy

Universe Today | 5/20/2019 | Staff
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Welcome back to Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our tribute to our dear friend, Tammy Plotner, by looking at the elliptical (lenticular) galaxy known as Messier 86!

During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noticed the presence of several “nebulous objects” while surveying the night sky. Originally mistaking these objects for comets, he began to catalog them so that others would not make the same mistake. Today, the resulting list (known as the Messier Catalog) includes over 100 objects and is one of the most influential catalogs of Deep Space Objects.

Objects - Galaxy - Messier - Constellation - Virgo

One of these objects is the elliptical (lenticular) galaxy known as Messier 86. Located in the southern constellation Virgo, roughly 52 million light years from Earth, this galaxy is another member of the Virgo Cluster – the closest large galaxy cluster to the Milky Way. Because of its distance and proximity to other bright galaxies, this galaxy can only be seen with a telescope, or as a faint patch with binoculars when viewing conditions are sufficient.


Way… - Messier - Shift - Object - Charles

It’s heading our way… Messier 86 is the highest blue shift object in Charles’ entire catalog – is approaching us at 419 kilometers per second – or about 3 million miles per hour! As C. Jones (et al.) determined in a 2003 study:

“The supersonic motion of M86 produces pressure that is stripping gas from the galaxy and forming the spectacular tail. M86 has been pulled into the Virgo galaxy cluster and accelerated to a high speed by the enormous combined gravity of dark matter, hot gas, and hundreds of galaxies that comprise the cluster. The infall of the galaxy into the cluster is an example of the process by which galaxy groups and galaxy clusters form over the course of billions of years. The galaxy is no longer an “island universe” with an...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Universe Today
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