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Virgo A: Giant Elliptical Galaxy

Type of Object:  Virgo A is a giant elliptical galaxy is the center of the cluster of galaxies in the constellation Virgo.  Vir A is perhaps best noted for the jet moving relativistically being ejected from the galaxy.  The power source of the jet is thought to be a supermassive (several million times the mass of the sun) black hole at the center of the galaxy.  With a visible magnitude of about 8.5, the galaxy can be photographed using even a small telescope.

Distance: 65 million light years
Size: About 120,000 lyr diameter
Coordinates (Epoch J2000):
         Right Ascension:       
12 30 49.0
         Declination:                  +12 23 28.0

Other Names: M87, 3C274, Virgo Galaxy

Radio Brightness at 1420 MHz (21 cm): 220 Jy

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Location on the sky: The giant elliptical galaxy Vir A is located in Virgo, but is easier to find if you locate the constellation Leo on the sky.  Leo is prominent by the backwards question mark pattern of stars marked by the bright star Regulus. The tail end of Leo makes a triangle. As shown in the figure to the right, Vir A is located about twice the distance between two stars in the tail of Leo. This is a Spring object.

Images shown below, at different wavelengths, cover a
0.5 degree x 0.5 degree area of the sky centered on the nebula.  The images are taken from the SKYVIEW Virtual Observatory maintained under NASA ADP Grant NAS5-32068 with P.I.
Thomas A. McGlynn under the auspices of the High Energy Astrophysics Science  Archive Research Center (HEASARC) at the GSFC Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics. SKYVIEW contains catalogs and surveys from x-ray to radio observations. The site is located at http://skyview.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Visible image from the digitized Palomar Sky Survey E plates.  The jet from the galaxy is seen protruding from the lower right of the galaxy as a short bright line.

Far-Infrared Image at 100 microns taken by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) Survey. Shows bright gas emission near Vir A.

Image taken at the radio emission of neutral hydrogen at 1420 MHz by the NRAO VLA Sky Survey.  Shows the gas surrounding Vir A. Note the asymmetry of the gas emission.

Image taken at the radio emission frequency of 4850 MHz. Image shows the gas component.  Image is from a Green Bank survey from 0 to +75 declination).

[Orion Nebula] [crab_nebula] [W3] [cas_a] [cygnus_a] [her_a] [vir_a] [galactic_center] [sgp] [ngp]