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Sombrero (seen with Hubble)

Sombrero (seen with Hubble) (Space)

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The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as M104 or NGC 4594) is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk. The dark dust lane and the bulge give this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +9.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes. The large bulge, the central supermassive black hole, and the dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.

Discovery

The Sombrero Galaxy was discovered in Mar. of 1767 (252 years ago) by Pierre Méchain, who described the object in a May 1767 (252 years ago) letter to J. Bernoulli that was later published in the Berliner Astronomisches Jahrbuch. Charles Messier made a hand-written note about this and five other objects (now collectively recognized as M104 - M109) to his personal list of objects now known as the Messier Catalogue, but it was not "officially" included until 1921 (98 years ago). William Herschel independently discovered the object in 1784 (235 years ago) and additionally noted the presence of a "dark stratum" in the galaxy's disk, what is now called a dust lane. Later astronomers were able to connect Méchain's and Herschel's observations.


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