Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

August 15, 1999
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M104: The Sombrero Galaxy

Explanation: What's going on in the center of this spiral galaxy? Named the Sombrero Galaxy for its hat-like resemblance, M104 features a prominent dust lane and a bright halo of stars and globular clusters. Something truly energetic is going on in the Sombrero's center, as it not only appears bright in visible light, but glows prodigiously in X-ray light as well. This X-ray emission coupled with unusually high central stellar speeds cause many astronomers to speculate that a black hole lies at the Sombrero's center - a black hole possibly a billion times the mass of our Sun.

Tomorrow's picture: Mars Weather Watch

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.