M88 contains an active galactic nucleus, meaning the central region of the galaxy is more luminous than the rest of the galaxy. At the galaxy’s core resides a supermassive black hole estimated to be 100 million times more massive than our Sun. M88 contains around 400 billion stars and is traveling away from our galaxy.
Charles Messier discovered M88 in 1781 on the same night that he discovered eight other Messier objects. Today, it can be observed with binoculars under clear viewing conditions. Smaller telescopes will reveal an elongated object with a brighter core, while larger telescopes will unveil further details, such as a more defined core. M88 has a magnitude of 9.5 and is best observed in May.
This Hubble observation was taken using the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 with a single visible-light filter. With Hubble, observations in multiple filters are needed to produce color images, so this image is in black and white only. Nearly half of the galaxy is shown in this Hubble view. Hubble took these observations as part of a survey of spiral galaxies to better assess the properties of spiral galaxies, including their galactic cores, their globular cluster populations, and the occurrence of multiple and off-centered nuclei.
Last Updated: March 16, 2018
Editor: Rob Garner
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