Sombrero Galaxy in 60 Seconds
Narrator (Megan Watzke, CXC): We begin with the Hubble Space Telescope’s optical light view of the Sombrero galaxy, also known as M104. Sombrero is one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo cluster, about 28 million light years from Earth. Some of the prominent features of the Sombrero, which are highlighted in Hubble’s image, include its large bulge of stars in the center and the thick band of dust that appears as the dark lane across the galaxy’s mid-section. Like the Milky Way, Sombrero is a spiral galaxy. However, we see Sombrero edge-on from our vantage point from Earth, rather than the face-down perspective that is more familiar. A Great Observatories view of the same Sombrero reveals different aspects of the galaxy. The X-ray image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory shows hot gas in the galaxy that appears as a diffuse glow that extends over 60,000 light years from the Sombrero’s center. Also, Chandra detects many point-like sources of X-ray emission that are mostly stars within Sombrero but some are quasars in the distant background. The rim of dust that blocks the starlight in the Hubble image glows brightly in the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared image. Also, the central bulge of stars strongly emits infrared emission detected by Spitzer.