Compact Core of Galaxy M87

NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope clearly shows the central core and accompanying jet of the giant elliptical galaxy M87. This near-infrared image was taken with HST's Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WF/PC), in high resolution mode, on June 1, 1991. The image is being presented on Thursday, January 16th at the 179th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta, Georgia.

The steady increase in brightness of M87 towards its center is readily apparent in the image, showing that the stars in MS7 are strongly concentrated towards its nucleus, as if drawn into the center and held there by the gravitational field of a massive black hole. Theoretical models suggest that the structure of Mg7 is consistent with a central 2.6 billion solar mass black hole. High resolution spectroscopic observations are now needed to confirm this possibility.


Tod R. Lauer (NOAO), Sandra M. Faber (CSC), C. Roger Lynds (NOAO), and the Wide Field/Planetary Camera Imaging Team.

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:16 January 1992, 06:00
Size:2544 x 2144 px

About the Object

Name:IRAS 12282+1240, M 87, Messier 87, NGC 4486, Virgo Galaxy
Type:• Local Universe : Galaxy : Component : Center/Core
• Local Universe : Galaxy : Size : Giant
• Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Elliptical
Distance:55 million light years

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.0 MB
Screensize JPEG
194.3 KB


Position (RA):12 30 49.02
Position (Dec):12° 23' 30.88"
Field of view:0.48 x 0.41 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 150.9° left of vertical

Colours & filters

785 nm Hubble Space Telescope

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