M104 lies at the nearer edge of the 60 million light years distant Virgo cluster of galaxies, and at nearly a trillion solar masses, is one of the more massive galaxies in that group, even though relatively small (about 50 thousand light years across). In most images, the massive central bulge of the galaxy almost totally obscures the structure of the spiral disk, but digital photoediting and using different wavelengths to reveal different structures can make fine details easier to see.
Above, an HST image processed to provide a "typical" image of the galaxy. Even in this image, dark dust lanes in the outer part of the galaxy dramatically display its spiral nature; but fainter dust lanes near the center are swamped by the glare from the nucleus. (Credits: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), NASA) Below, a reworked version of the image above reduces glare from the nucleus, allowing spiral structure to be seen within the central regions, as well. (Credits: NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), apod080308)
Below, a Spitzer Space Telescope infrared image is combined with the HST image, in a false-color view which emphasizes the heat radiated by glowing clouds of gas and dust in the spiral arms. (Credits: JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/STScI/NASA)