Astrophoto Lab
--- your online source for astronomical & satellite images ---

The Darkness Within?
General Information
Special Galleries
Deep Space
Stars, Supernovae
Solar System
Earth from Space
NASA Space Programs
Other Astro Images
Space Image Gallery
Useful Links
Credits & Useage
Name: Messier 85, NGC 4382
Description: Elliptical Galaxy
Position (J2000): RA 12h 25m 24.00s Dec 18° 11' 16.55"
Constellation: Coma Berenices
Distance: 50 million light years
Visual Magnitude: 9.1
Angular size: 9.8 × 8.4 arcmin
Field of view: 2.55 x 2.69 arcminutes
Orientation: North is 0.1° right of vertical
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. O'Connell
Release date: February 4, 2019

Click the image to buy a print


This atmospheric image shows a galaxy named Messier 85, captured in all its delicate, hazy glory by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Located in the constellation Coma Berenices, M85 is a member of the Virgo cluster of galaxies and was discovered by Charles Messier's colleague Pierre Méchain on March 4, 1781. It lies approximately 60 million light-years away from Earth and is best seen in May. With an apparent magnitude of 9.2, this galaxy is relatively faint and is not easy to spot with binoculars or small telescopes. In telescopes with 8-inch apertures M85 appears as a dim, elongated patch of light. Larger telescopes will reveal more detail in the galaxy.

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 neighbors: 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 center 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 center, 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.

From Wikipedia:

Messier 85 (also known as M85 or NGC 4382 or PGC 40515 or ISD 0135852) is a lenticular galaxy, or elliptical galaxy for other authors, in the Coma Berenices constellation. It is 60 million light-years away, and it is estimated to be 125,000 light-years across. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781. It is the northernmost outlier of the Virgo cluster discovered as of 2004

M85 is extremely poor in neutral hydrogen and has a very complex outer structure with shells and ripples that are thought to have been caused by a merger with another galaxy that took place between 4 and 7 billion years ago, as well as a relatively young (<3 billion years old) stellar population on its centermost region, some of it in a ring, that may have been created by a late starburst.

While indirect methods imply that Messier 85 should contain a central supermassive black hole of around 100 million solar masses, velocity dispersion observations imply that the galaxy may entirely lack a central massive black hole. The type I supernova, 1960R was discovered in M85 on December 20, 1960 and reached an apparent magnitude of 11.7.

This galaxy has also been the host of the first luminous red nova identified as such, M85 OT2006-1. It was discovered on January 7 of 2006 and took place on the outskirts of this galaxy.

M85 is interacting with the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 4394, and a small elliptical galaxy called MCG 3-32-38