Online Astronomy eText: Galaxies and the Universe
The Sombrero Galaxy, M104 Link for sharing this page on Facebook
     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.
Normal image of M104; also see image below
     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. (Credit 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. (Credit NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), apod080308)
Alternate version of the image above
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. (Credit JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/STScI/NASA)
Spitzer/HST composite of M104