Black Hole Bonanza: M87 Galaxy Boasts Trillions of Stars and a Monster at its Core.

A Supergiant Elliptical Galaxy

M87 is a behemoth of a galaxy, classified as a supergiant elliptical galaxy. It resides in the constellation Virgo, roughly 54 million light-years away from Earth. Discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier, it was initially categorized as a nebula. With a mass estimated to be over 2,400 billion times that of our sun, M87 is among the most massive galaxies within our local universe.

Home to Trillions of Stars

M87 is teeming with stars, boasting a population in the trillions. In comparison, the Milky Way galaxy, our home, is estimated to contain just a few hundred billion stars. Another distinction of M87 is the sheer number of globular clusters it harbors. These are dense collections of stars, and M87 is estimated to have about 15,000, whereas the Milky Way has only around 150-200.

A Galactic Jet

One of the most fascinating features of M87 is a jet of energetic material emanating from its core. This jet, composed of hot plasma, extends for at least 1,500 parsecs (4,900 light-years) and travels at close to the speed of light. The presence of this jet is thought to be linked to the supermassive black hole lurking at the heart of the galaxy.

The First Black Hole Image

M87 gained significant scientific recognition in 2019 when it became the target of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project. This international collaboration of astronomers and scientists succeeded in capturing the first direct image of a black hole, the one residing at the center of M87. The black hole in M87 is a supermassive one, clocking in at 6.5 billion times the mass of our sun.

A Beacon for Astronomers

Because of its immense size, active core, and relative proximity to Earth, M87 has become a favorite amongst both professional and amateur astronomers for observation and study. It is a bright radio source and continues to be a source of valuable scientific discoveries.

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