Radio/X-ray/Optical Image of M87

This image is a composite of visible (or optical), radio, and X-ray data of the giant elliptical galaxy, M87. M87 lies at a distance of 54 million light-years and is the largest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Bright jets moving at close to the speed of light are seen at all wavelengths coming from the massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. It has also been identified with the strong radio source, Virgo A, and is a powerful source of X-rays as it resides near the center of a hot, X-ray emitting cloud that extends over much of the Virgo cluster. The extended radio emission consists of plumes of relativistic (extremely hot) gas from the jets rising into the X-ray emitting cluster medium.

The optical data of M87 were obtained with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys in visible and infrared filters (data courtesy of P. Cote (Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics) and E. Baltz (Stanford University)). Wide-field optical data of the center of the Virgo Cluster were also provided by R. Gendler (Copyright Robert Gendler 2006). The X-ray data were acquired from the Chandra X-ray Observatory's AXAF CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS), and were provided by J. Forman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) et al. The radio data were obtained by W. Cotton and also archive processing using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array (NRAO/VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico.


Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)
Science Credit: Radio: NRAO/AUI/NSF/W. Cotton; X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/W. Forman et al.; Optical: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), and R. Gendler

About the Image

NASA press release
Release date:5 August 2008, 15:00
Related releases:heic0815
Size:2846 x 2756 px

About the Object

Name:Messier 87, NGC 4486
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Elliptical
Local Universe : Galaxy : Size : Giant
Distance:55 million light years

Image Formats

r.titleLarge JPEG
1.6 MB
r.titleScreensize JPEG
212.0 KB



Position (RA):12 30 49.19
Position (Dec):12° 22' 47.86"
Field of view:11.02 x 10.67 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 0.0° right of vertical

Colours & filters

X-ray Chandra
Optical Hubble Space Telescope
Radio Other

Notes: Visible data - shown in yellow - was contributed by both the HST and astrophotographer Robert Gendler.

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