The Evolving Universe

Smithsonian Institution

Virgo A Galaxy • M87

M87 image

Credit: NASA/CXC/CfA,NRAO/AUI,ESA

Observers: Bill Forman, Bill Cotton, P. Cote, E. Baltz, R. Gendler

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Virgo A is the largest, heaviest galaxy in the Virgo supercluster of galaxies. Our galaxy lies just inside the border of this supercluster. Bright jets moving at close to the speed of light shoot from the supermassive black hole at the center of Virgo A. Astronomers consider this galaxy a "monster", with a total mass 200 times greater than that of the Milky Way.

  • Distance from Earth: 55 million light years
  • Size: 200,000 light years
  • Telescope: Chandra/VLA/HST
  • Light: X-ray (blue), radio (red), visible (yellow)