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Galaxy

Messier 59

Messier 59 (M59) is an elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Virgo, and it reaches its annual culmination at astronomical midnight around April 1st.

Messier 59 (M59) is a bright elliptical galaxy in the Virgo Cluster, discovered by Johann Gottfried Koehler in 1779. This galaxy is classified as an E5 type elliptical galaxy, meaning it has a somewhat elongated shape. It contains a supermassive black hole at its center, with a mass estimated to be around 270 million times that of the Sun.

Catalog numbers and names

  • Messier 59
  • UGC 7858
  • NGC 4621

Position and the cosmic neighborhood

Messier 59 is located within the Virgo Cluster, a massive cluster of galaxies in the constellation Virgo. It is positioned approximately 60 million lightyears away from Earth, making it a relatively nearby galaxy in cosmic terms. M59 is situated close to another elliptical galaxy, Messier 60 (M60), and both are among the brightest galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. The region around M59 is densely populated with other galaxies, making it a rich field for observational astronomy.

Facts

  • Messier 59 is one of the largest elliptical galaxies in the Virgo Cluster.
  • It contains a supermassive black hole with a mass of around 270 million solar masses.
  • The galaxy hosts a significant number of globular clusters.
  • M59 was discovered in 1779 by Johann Gottfried Koehler.

Brightness, distance and size

Messier 59 has an apparent magnitude of 9.6, making it visible with small telescopes under dark skies. It lies approximately 60 million lightyears from Earth. The galaxy spans about 90,000 lightyears in diameter, which is somewhat smaller compared to other giant elliptical galaxies. In the night sky, M59 appears with an angular size of 5.4 by 3.7 arcminutes, presenting a slightly elongated shape.

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