When one thinks of an elliptical galaxy, the first name to pop is M87 Galaxy. In this article about M87 Galaxy facts, we are going to explore some really cool facts. If you are a stargazer or a sky watcher, you may already know some of the facts here. Nonetheless, consider this article on M87 Galaxy facts as a refresher course.
Interesting M87 Galaxy Facts: 1-10
1. The M87 Galaxy was first discovered by Charles Messier. Isn’t that a common name for you by now? The discovery was made in 1781.
2. Messier was actually looking for objects in deep sky that comet watchers might think of as comets. He cataloged the M87 as a nebulous feature of the sky.
3. M87 actually stands for Messier 87 as it was the 87th object he cataloged. Officially, the galaxy is known as NGC 4486.
4. The M87 Galaxy is a true elliptical galaxy. In fact, it is a supermassive elliptical galaxy sitting in the Virgo constellation.
5. It is one of the most massive galaxies to be sitting in our local universe and is a part of the Virgo Cluster. In case you didn’t know, the Virgo Cluster is actually a collection of several thousand galaxies. The entire cluster moves through the universe together.
6. This galaxy is the second brightest galaxy in the northern Virgo Cluster. It is also extremely far from our Earth.
7. The distance of the galaxy from our Earth is 53.5 million light years or 16.4 million parsecs.
8. Most interesting of the M87 Galaxy facts is that at its center is a supermassive black hole. As a matter of fact, it is the largest black hole known so far.
9. This black hole at the center of the M87 has a mass equivalent to 6.8 billion solar masses. In case that doesn’t give you a fair idea, think of its event horizon. The event horizon is the boundary of a black hole. Once anything gets into that boundary, nothing can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole, not even light! The event horizon of the black hole at center of M87 is 4 times the size of the orbit of our planet Neptune.
10. Just for the sake of comparison, the black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is 1,000 smaller than the black hole at the center of M87.