The darkness within?

This atmospheric image shows a galaxy named Messier 85, captured in all its delicate, hazy glory by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Messier 85 slants through the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair), and lies around 50 million light-years from Earth. It was first discovered by Charles Messier’s colleague Pierre Méchain in 1781, and is included in the Messier catalogue of celestial objects.

Messier 85 is intriguing — its properties lie somewhere between those of a lenticular and an elliptical galaxy, and it appears to be interacting with two of its neighbours: the beautiful spiral NGC 4394, located out of frame to the upper left, and the small elliptical MCG 3-32-38, located out of frame to the centre bottom.

The galaxy contains some 400 billion stars, most of which are very old. However, the central region hosts a population of relatively young stars of just a few billion years in age; these stars are thought to have formed in a late burst of star formation, likely triggered as Messier 85 merged with another galaxy over four billion years ago. Messier 85 has a further potentially strange quality. Almost every galaxy is thought to have a supermassive black hole at its centre, but from measurements of the velocities of stars in this galaxy, it is unclear whether Messier 85 contains such a black hole.

This image combines infrared, visible and ultraviolet observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. O'Connell

About the Image

Id:potw1905a
Type:Observation
Release date:4 February 2019, 06:00
Size:3860 x 4079 px

About the Object

Name:Messier 85
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Elliptical
Distance:50 million light years
Constellation:Coma Berenices
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
3.0 MB
Screensize JPEG
118.6 KB

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Wallpapers

1024x768
105.1 KB
1280x1024
180.8 KB
1600x1200
282.0 KB
1920x1200
359.8 KB
2048x1536
502.9 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):12 25 24.00
Position (Dec):18° 11' 16.55"
Field of view:2.55 x 2.69 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 0.1° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
u
336 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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