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4/26/2012

The Somberro is an Elliptical Galaxy with a Spiral in it!

Space.com has a nice article about Messier 104 as found in this link.  First, I encourage everyone to read that article.  Second, to summarize the article it basically says that the Spitzer Space Telescope's image of Messier 104 shows that it has the mass and size of an elliptical galaxy.  So where did the dust lane come from?  Some may speculate that it is a merger of a spiral with the elliptical but it isn't.  it is basically an Elliptical with a Spiral in it, but the spiral may have come from a gas cloud that got caught by the elliptical and then by the gravity of the galaxy was absorbed to the middle of the galaxy.  The article speculates that NGC 5128 or the Centaurus A galaxy is also an elliptical with a gas cloud being pulled into it by gravity and in time, Centaurus A may just end up looking similar to Messier 104 (in millions of years of course, well 100's of million of years).  Oh, and if Space.com isn't good enough, here is the release from the Jet Propulsion Lab:  Link 

Anyway, here is the Spitzer image of Messier 104 and you can see the elliptical there with the spiral inside of it:







A better view of a visible and infrared like above, the visible and then the infrared alone.





Here is Centaurus A from Spitzer with a similar description to what is happening to it as mentioned above. The key is that astronomers believe that Centaurus A is going through this and is much younger at doing so compared to Messier 104.  Here is the NASA link on the image below: 
LINK







So why post this when I have sketches and two reports to get up? One, I won't have time to post my two experiences until Saturday or Sunday, but everything is ready to go.  Two, I think as we either image, sketch or just take in the view on things, knowing the science behind it enhances the experience and it shows how science is ever increasing its knowledge of such wonderful objects.