Sombrero Galaxy is a beautiful galaxy – a world so far away that we can possibly never reach it. At least we cannot reach it any time soon. We don’t know what is hidden in future. If intergalactic travel as shown in movies become a reality, our future generations might think of intergalactic holidays. Are we talking nonsense? May be! Anyway, let us get back to ‘now’. In this article we are going to learn 20 interesting Sombrero Galaxy facts. May be you have heard of the name before, may be you haven’t… anyway, it is time to take a look at it now.
Interesting Sombrero Galaxy Facts: 1-5
1. The Sombrero Galaxy is officially known as NGC 4595 or sometimes it is also known as M104.
2. This galaxy sits in the Virgo constellation and is at a distance of 28 million light years from our home planet – Earth.
3. Did you know that sombrero is actually a Mexican hat? That is precisely from where the name of the galaxy has been derived.
4. NASA says that the Sombrero Galaxy has been so named because the central stars bulge of the galaxy is unusually large. Around that bulge is dark and prominent dust arranged in form of lanes that appear like a disk.
5. The arrangement is such that we can actually see the edge of the dust-lane disk.
Interesting Sombrero Galaxy Facts: 6-10
6. The billions and billions of stars in the galaxy produce a diffused glow. This glow gives the central bulge an extended look and the whole galaxy appears like a sombrero.
7. The magnificent dark dust ring around the central bulge has many bright and young stars. There are incredible details in the ring that the astronomers are not yet capable of understanding.
8. Astronomers believe that at the very center of the Sombrero Galaxy sits a massive black hole.
9. According to NASA, even a small telescope pointed towards the Virgo constellation will allow us to see light which is 50 million years old! We gotta get ourselves a telescope very soon!
10. Pierre Mechain is the person who originally discovered the Sombrero Galaxy back in 1781.
Interesting Sombrero Galaxy Facts: 11-15
11. In 1784, William Herschel used his famed reflector telescope for rediscovering the galaxy. Actually, it wasn’t Herschel himself who rediscovered the galaxy. It was rediscovered by his friends. Herschel was the one who made the galaxy popular.
12. According to NASA, the Sombrero Galaxy has split personality. What does that mean? According to NASA, it is actually a very large elliptical galaxy, which has a disk galaxy embedded in it.
13. This galaxy has a diameter of about 50,000 light years.
14. According to astronomers, this galaxy hosts about 100 billion stars.
15. According to astronomers, the galaxy may not formally belong to any galaxy group. They rather think that it is one of the galaxies in a string of galaxies extending away from Virgo Cluster.
Interesting Sombrero Galaxy Facts: 16-20
16. Around the core of the Sombrero Galaxy are 2,000 globular clusters swarming around. Experts say that this number actually corresponds to the galaxy’s central bulge’s size.
17. By studying the motion of stars around the central black hole, astronomers estimate that the supermassive black hole has a mass of a billion suns (our Sun actually). This makes the black hole the largest in any galaxy so far.
18. Using Spitzer Space Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has studied the galaxy and found that its star birth region is along the outer rim of its dust ring. Scientists confirmed this by observing the galaxy in infrared spectrum.
19. The Sombrero Galaxy may look different from a different viewing angle. From Earth, we can look at it “edge on”, which is why it looks like a hat.
20. This galaxy is a Barred Spiral galaxy. It means that at the central part of the galaxy is a structure that looks like a bar. This bar is made of stars.
The best time to spot the Sombrero Galaxy is early summer and spring. In good night sky conditions, even a pair of binoculars can be used for spotting the galaxy but the dust lane cannot be seen without a telescope.