M-89 an Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo

M-89, Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo

This is a CCD image taken with an STL-1301E CCD camera thru Kopernik's 20 inch F/8.1 telescope working at F/5.

Charles Messier: (March 18th, 1781) Nebula without a star in Virgo; a little distance from and on the same parallel as....M-87. Its light is extremely faint and pale and it can only be seen with difficulty'

John Herschel: (1864) 'Pretty bright, pretty small; gradually much brighter in the middle.'

Burnham's "Celestial Handbook": 'In appearance it resembles M-87 but is somewhat smaller and about 1 magnitude fainter. ..... This is another of the rather 'yellowish' elliptical systems..... i.e. it has mostly old or middle aged stars.....'

M-89 (aka NGC 4552) is an Elliptical Galaxy in the Constellation of Virgo, and it is a member of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. It appears nearly circular in shape, and while small in size, it is visually rather bright even in a small telescope. It is unknown if it is truly spherical, or we are just looking directly at the end of the major axis of an elliptical body. The galaxy is a very bright radio source and also an X-ray source, both centered on the optical center of the galaxy. These are indications of an active black hole at the core of the galaxy.

Note the numerous small and dim background galaxies in the image. These systems are mostly dimmer than 18th magnitude.

George Normandin, KAS

June 26, 2011