This nearly edge-on view of the Sombrero galaxy shows that the disks of
spiral galaxies are incredibly thin. The majestic spiral arms cannot be
seen in this side view of the Sombrero, named because it resembles a
broad-brimmed Mexican hat. But it does disclose many other interesting
details that cannot be seen as clearly in a face-on picture. The photo
reveals a swarm of stars in a pancake-shaped disk as well as a glowing
central halo of stars.
Hubble mosaic of the majestic
Photo Credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The disk displays dark dust lanes, where many young and bright stars
reside. The Hubble telescope also shows that the glowing central bulge of
stars harbors nearly 2,000 globular clusters of stars, 10 times as many as
orbit our Milky Way galaxy.
The Hubble Heritage team of astronomers, who assemble many of the NASA
Hubble Space Telescope's most stunning pictures, released this picture of
the Sombrero to celebrate its five-year anniversary. Since its inception
in 1998, the Hubble Heritage Project has released more than 65 images -
one a month - of dazzling celestial objects, including planets, dying
stars, regions of star formation, clusters of stars, individual galaxies,
and even clusters of galaxies.
The Heritage team used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys to take six
pictures of the Sombrero and then stitched them together to create the
final composite image. One of the largest Hubble mosaics ever assembled,
this magnificent galaxy is nearly one-fifth the diameter of the full moon.
The Sombrero resides on the southern edge of the rich Virgo cluster of
galaxies and is one of the most massive objects in that group, equivalent
to 800 billion suns. The galaxy is 50,000 light-years across and is
located 28 million light-years from Earth.
For more information, go to the Hubble release at:
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope