The Sombrero Galaxy
Spiral Galaxy in Virgo

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M104 is a magnitude 8 galaxy in Virgo, presenting to us almost edge-on. It is an interesting galaxy! Although only about a third of the diameter of our Milky Way, it has a mass of about 800 billion suns, which is about half the mass of the Milky Way. It is thought to have at its core one of the most massive black holes of any galaxy in our galactic neighborhood. Also, it has a very large and bright central bulge, compared to many galaxies (including our Milky Way, which is thought to look something like this when viewed edge-on). As seems to go along with having a very large central bulge, M104 has a large number of globular clusters; if you look closely, you will notice that there are a lot more "stars" near the galaxy than in the rest of the photo; the faint, slightly-fuzzy "stars" are mostly globular clusters around M104. And finally, while it is generally thought to be a spiral galaxy, some authorities believe it is a lenticular galaxy.

The dark band seen in the image (at the edge of the "brim" of the sombrero) is a dust lane; galaxies contain a lot of dust (which is much of what you see in dark sky photos of the Milky Way. It is estimated to be approximately 28 million light years from earth, and approximately 40,000 light years in diameter.


Technical Information:

LRGB: 495:180:180:240 (that's over 18 hours of keepers included in this image); Luminance layer consists of data from 33 fifteen-minute images through the luminance (clear) filter; R and G consist of fifteen-minute images; B consists of twenty-minute images.

Equipment: RC Optical Systems 14.5 inch Ritchey-Chretien carbon fiber truss telescope, with ion-milled optics and RCOS field flattener, at about f/9, and an SBIG STX-16803 monochrome camera with internal filter wheel (SBIG filter set), guided by an SBIG AO-X, all riding on a Bisque Paramount ME German Equatorial Mount.

Image Acquisition/Camera Control: Maxim DL, controlled with ACP Expert/Scheduler, working in concert with TheSky X Professional Edition.

Processing: All images calibrated (darks, bias and sky flats), aligned, combined and cropped in Pixinsight. Color combine in Pixinsight. Some finish work (background neutralization, color calibration, deconvolution, HDR Mulitscale Transform and noise reduction) done in Pixinsight; some cleanup finish work was done in Photoshop CC.

Location: Data acquired remotely with my equipment hosted by Sierra Remote Observatories, Auberry, California, USA.

Date: Images taken on many nights from early May to early June 2021. Image posted June 23, 2021.

Date: Image scale of full-resolution image: 0.56 arcseconds per pixel.

Seeing: Generally very good, with individual calibrated luminance frames varying from 1.6 to 2.1 arcsecond FWHM.

CCD Chip temperature: -25C

Copyright 2021 Mark de Regt

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