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Elliptical Galaxy M87

Elliptical Galaxy M87

C003/3927

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Credit

NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

This image is a composite of visible (or optical), radio, and X-ray data of the giant elliptical galaxy, M87. M87 lies at a distance of 60 million light years and is the largest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Bright jets moving at close to the speed of light are seen at all wavelengths coming from the massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. It has also been identified with the strong radio source, Virgo A, and is a powerful source of X-rays as it resides near the center of a hot, X-ray emitting cloud that extends over much of the Virgo cluster. The extended radio emission consists of plumes of fast-moving gas from the jets rising into the X-ray emitting cluster medium. In X-rays, M87 also reveals evidence for a series of outbursts from the central supermassive black hole. The loops and bubbles in the hot, X-ray emitting gas are relics of small outbursts from close to the black hole. Other interesting features in M87 are narrow filaments of X-ray emission, which may be due to hot gas trapped by magnetic fields. One of these filaments is over 100,000 light years long, and extends below and to the right of the center of M87 in almost a straight line.

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