A 30 minute exposure thru Kopernik's 20-inch F/8.1 telescope with an SBIG STL-1301E CCD camera. The field of view is about 13x16 arc minutes with North at the top.
Near the two bright spiral galaxies M-95 & M-96 in the constellation of Leo, one can find a group of three companion galaxies. One is elliptical, one is a spiral, and one is lenticular. These galaxies are in the "Leo Spur", a nearby group of galaxies about 32 million light-years away and roughly in the direction of the Virgo cluster. This cluster includes other bright members, like spiral galaxies M-65 and M-66, plus numerous smaller systems.
NGC 3379 (M-105) is a type E1 elliptical galaxy. M-105 appears visually in Kopernik Observatory's 20 inch telescope as a bright, round, smudge, with a very bright center. It forms a small triangle with NGC 3384, a bright lenticular galaxy, and NGC 3389, a dimmer spiral galaxy.
This Hubble Space Telescope image shows what appears to be a black hole in the center of M-105. The HST image above shows only a tiny portion of the center of M-105.
The black hole in the core of galaxy M-105 "weighs in" at 50 million million solar masse. "We believe we are looking at "fossil quasars" and that most galaxies at one time burned brightly as a quasar," says team leader Doug Richstone of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Many Messier Object lists include it as M-105, but Messier never published it. P. Mechain discovered it in March 1781 a few days after finding M-95 & M-96. Apparently he did not tell Messier, or Messier forgot about it. It is included in M-Object lists based on a re-discovered letter of Mechain describing his discoveries of the spring of 1781. He included six objects in addition to those Messier published in his list. Messier claimed that he knew of additional objects, but he never published an extended list as promised. Based on this evidence, people began extending the M-Objects to M-110, and even beyond. However, K. Jones, in his classic book "Messier's Nebulae & Star Clusters", limits these extensions to M-110.
George Normandin, KAS
April 25th, 2007