In a mesmerizing display of celestial grandeur, NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has gifted us with a breathtaking image that unveils the captivating wonders of Messier 85. Nestled gracefully within the Coma Berenices constellation, this distant galaxy has become the latest subject of Hubble's lens, revealing its enigmatic allure and unraveling the secrets it holds.
A recent image from NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope portrays a striking view of Messier 85, or M85, a galaxy drifting through the Coma Berenices constellation. Located about 50 million light-years away from Earth, its hauntingly beautiful appearance leaves observers enthralled.
First Sightings: The Messier Catalog Entry
This curious galaxy was first identified in 1781 by Pierre Méchain, a colleague of renowned astronomer Charles Messier. Today, M85 is listed among the many celestial entities in the Messier catalog. Messier 85 presents an intriguing puzzle. Its characteristics blur the lines between a lenticular and elliptical galaxy. Moreover, it seems to be in a cosmic dance with two nearby galaxies, the splendid spiral NGC 4394 and the petite elliptical MCG 3-32-38, both outside the captured frame.
A Galactic Ensemble: Stars Old and Young
Hosting a staggering 400 billion stars, most of Messier 85’s stellar residents are exceptionally ancient. However, a cluster of relatively youthful stars, a few billion years old, resides in its central region. These stars likely emerged from a late star formation event, probably sparked by Messier 85’s merger with another galaxy over four billion years ago.
Wonders of Messier 85
Almost every galaxy is suspected to house a supermassive black hole at its center. Yet, it remains uncertain whether Messier 85 is host to such a black hole, as suggested by measurements of the velocities of stars within it. This exquisite image of M85 merges infrared, visible, and ultraviolet observations from Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, painting an extraordinarily intricate picture of this enigmatic galaxy.