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The Heart of the Lion
M105, Messier 105, NGC 3379
RA 10h 47m 49.63s Dec 12° 34' 55.76"
32 million light years
5.4 × 4.8 arcmin
6.31 x 6.39 arcminutes
North is 127.8° right of vertical
ESA/Hubble & NASA, C. Sarazin et al
January 7, 2019
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
It might appear featureless and unexciting at first glance, but NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations of this elliptical galaxy - known as Messier 105 - show that the stars near the galaxy's center are moving very rapidly. Astronomers have concluded that these stars are zooming around a supermassive black hole with an estimated mass of 200 million Suns! This black hole releases huge amounts of energy as it consumes matter falling into it and causing the center to shine far brighter than its surroundings. This system is known as an active galactic nucleus.
Hubble also surprised astronomers by revealing a few young stars and clusters in Messer 105, which was thought to be a "dead" galaxy incapable of star formation. Messier 105 is now thought to form roughly one Sun-like star every 10,000 years. Star-forming activity has also been spotted in a vast ring of hydrogen gas encircling both Messier 105 and its closest neighbor, the lenticular galaxy NGC 3384.
Messier 105 was discovered on March 24, 1781 by Pierre Méchain. It lies about 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion), and is the brightest elliptical galaxy within the Leo I galaxy group.
105 is known to have a supermassive black hole at its core whose mass
is estimated to be between 1.4×108 and 2×108 solar masses
The galaxy has a weak active galactic nucleus of the LINER type with a
spectral class of L2/T2, meaning no broad Ha line and intermediate emission
line ratios between a LINER and a H II region. The galaxy also contains
a few young stars and stellar clusters, suggesting some elliptical galaxies
still form new stars, but very slowly.