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Dates & Location

13th February - 19th February 2010 using the SMAP site at Weed, New Mexico. Elevation 7269 ft. Lat 32.8°N Long 195.5W  

Catalogue identification

M 104
NGC 4594
Sombrero Hat Galaxy

Equipment Used

Officina Stellare RC400 at 3304mm focal length.
Paramount ME German equatorial Mount.
Camera SBIG ST-11000M with FW-8L filter wheel.
TheSky V6 telescope control.
CCDSoft V 5.0 camera control


Where it is in space

In the constellation of Virgo, at a relatively bright magnitude of +8, M104 is just beyond the limit of naked-eye visibility and is easily seen through small telescopes. The Sombrero lies at 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. In this image North is up and East is to the left.

Remote session using RADMIN PC control from Ravenshead, UK.
LRGB exposures:- 310:90:90:110 mins total, using 8x20 min plus 15 x 10 min sub-exposures for Luminance and 10 min sub-exposures for RGB at
-35°C. All images binned 1x1. AllC

  What it is

The galaxy's hallmark is a brilliant white, bulbous core encircled by the thick dust lanes comprising the spiral structure of the galaxy. As seen from Earth, the galaxy is tilted nearly edge-on. We view it from just six degrees south of its equatorial plane. This brilliant galaxy was named the Sombrero because of its resemblance to the broad rim and high-topped Mexican hat.
M104 has a rich system of globular clusters in its extended halo, estimated to be nearly 2,000 in number — 10 times as many as orbit our Milky Way galaxy. The ages of the clusters are similar to the clusters in the Milky Way, ranging from 10-15 billion years old. Embedded in the bright core of M104 is a smaller disk, which is tilted relative to the large disk. X-ray emission suggests that there is material falling into the compact core, where a 1-billion-solar-mass black hole resides.

Processing Methods

Image acquisition and telescope control with CCDSoft V5/ TheSky6.  
  Data reduction with CCDStack. LRGB colour channels prepared and combined in CCDStack.  

Master LRGB image and Master Luminance images finished separately with Photoshop CS2.Final LRGB image created using PhotoShop CS2.