The Sombrero galaxy is not what it seems. This cosmic neighbor, also known as M104, lies 28 million light-years from our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Its thin, flat disk, rimmed by dark lanes of dust, spans 50,000 light-years and wraps around a brilliant central bulge of stars. Images of M104 taken in visible light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope appear to show a spiral galaxy not unlike our own. But space telescopes sensitive to other forms of light uncovered a different story. In 2012, infrared views acquired by NASA’s Spitzer spacecraft revealed M104’s disk was actually embedded within a huge, egg-shaped, or elliptical, galaxy. How the two galaxies came to be one is unknown, but the discovery may help scientists better understand the way galaxies evolve. Explore the images to see views of M104 observed in different wavelengths of light.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/STScI
Infrared image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Composite infrared and optical image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/STScI
X-ray image courtesy of NASA/UMass/Q.D.Wang et al.
Composite optical, infrared, X-ray image courtesy of X-ray: NASA/UMass/Q.D.Wang et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI/AURA/Hubble Heritage; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. AZ/R.Kennicutt/SINGS Team