Galaxies Messier 59 & Messier 60

Messier 59

Messier 59
Messier 59: Image taken with Hubble Space Telescope. © ESA/Hubble & NASA [245]

The discovery of this galaxy is attributed to the German astronomer Johann Gottfried Koehler on 11 April 1779. Charles Messier came across the same galaxy just a few days later and included it as number 59 in his catalog of nebulous celestial objects. Both encountered this galaxy while observing the comet in 1779. Messier mentioned the nebula on his 1779 map of the comet. [217]

M 59 is an elliptical galaxy. Although elliptical galaxies, along with spiral galaxies and irregular galaxies, are considered to be the most developed form, M 59 shows signs of star formation in a disk near the center. In this there is a black hole with about 270 million solar masses. The innermost 200 light years of the galaxy rotates in the opposite direction. M 59 is surrounded by around 2200 globular clusters. The galaxy is located about 50 million light years away in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. [245, 246]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
DesignationNGC 4621
TypeGx (E5)
Right Ascension12h 42m 02.2s
Declination+11° 38' 50"
Diameter5.4 × 3.7 arcmin
Photographic (blue) magnitude10.6 mag
Visual magnitude9.6 mag
Surface brightness12.9 mag·arcmin-2
Position angle165°
Redshift0.001368
Distance derived from z5.78 Mpc
Metric Distance15.550 Mpc
Dreyer DescriptionB, pL, lE, vsvmbM, 2 st p
Identification, RemarksM 59, UGC 7858, MCG 2-32-183, CGCG 70-223, VCC 1903

Messier 60 + NGC 4647 (Arp 116)

M 60 + NGC 4647
M 60 + NGC 4647: Supernova SN 2022hrs in Spiralgalaxie NGC 4647. Bottom right NGC 4637 and 4638; Takahashi Mewlon 250 CR, Reducer CR 0.73 (1800mm / f7.25), SBIG ST-8300; 11L x 900sec 1×1, 8R, 9G, 9B 2×2 x 600sec; Bernese Highlands; © 27.4. + 1.5.2022 Bernhard Blank, Dragan Vogel

The galaxy M 60 was discovered together with M 59 on 11 April 1779 by the German astronomer Johan Gottfried Koehler and four nights later by Charles Messier. On April 13 and 14, the comet of 1779 passed so close to the galaxies that it appeared in his telescope in the same field of view as the galaxies and outshone them, which is why Messier did not discover the galaxies until the following night. [217]

M 60 is located in the Virgo galaxy cluster, which contains more than 1300 galaxies. At 9.8 mag, it is the third brightest galaxy in the Virgo galaxy cluster, measures around 120'000 light years in diameter and is around 54 million light years away.

In contrast to spiral galaxies, elliptical galaxies do not have organized structures and visible features. They are more like the core of a spiral galaxy. The mass of M 60 is estimated to be around one trillion (1012) solar masses, 4.5 billion (4.5·109) of which are due to the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy. [243]

The spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is only about two thirds the diameter of M 60 and also less mass. It is similar to the order of magnitude of our Milky Way. Their distance to earth is about 63 million light years, that to M 60 about 9 million light years. [244]

Astronomers have long tried to determine if the two galaxies were interacting with each other. Halton Arp had included the pair of galaxies as No. 166 in his 1966 «Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies». [199] Although they appear to overlap from Earth, there is no evidence of star-forming regions, which is one of the clearest signs of interaction. However, studies made from the very detailed Hubble photos suggest the onset of tidal interaction between the two. [243]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
NameRADecTypebMagvMagDimDreyer DescriptionIdentification, Remarks
NGC 464712 43 32.5+11 34 58Gx (SBc)11.911.32.9 × 2.3pF, pL, lE 115° ±, np of D nebUGC 7896, MCG 2-33-1, CGCG 71-15, IRAS 12410+1151, VCC 1972, VV 206, Arp 116, KCPG 353A
NGC 464912 43 39.8+11 33 11Gx (E2)9.88.87.6 × 6.2vB, pL, R, f of D nebM 60, UGC 7898, MCG 2-33-2, CGCG 71-16, VV 206, Arp 116, VCC 1978, KCPG 353B

Galaxies NGC 4606 and NGC 4607

NGC 4606, NGC 4607
NGC 4606, NGC 4607: Galaxies NGC 4606 (right) and NGC 4607 (left), STScI DSS [147]

NGC 4606 was discovered by Wilhelm Herschel on 15 March 1784. The adjacent galaxy NGC 4607 was missed by both he and his son. It was discovered by RJ Mitchell, an assistant to Lord Rosse, on 24 April 1854. Distance data according to Simbad to NGC 4606: 12.5 to 20.1 Mpc (40.8 to 65.6 million light years) and to NGC 4607: 8.4 to 19.9 Mpc (24.7 to 64.9 Million light years). Although the two galaxies are close together, they do not appear to be gravitationally bound to each other due to the difference in redshift of 600 km/s. [145, 196]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
NameRADecTypebMagvMagDimDreyer DescriptionIdentification, Remarks
NGC 460612 40 57.5+11 54 43Gx (SBa)12.711.83.3 × 1.7vF, pS, E, 2 or 3 vS st invUGC 7839, MCG 2-32-174, CGCG 70-213, VCC 1859, IRAS 12384+1211
NGC 460712 41 12.2+11 53 08Gx (SBb)13.812.82.9 × 0.7F, mE, 3' or 4' f III 43UGC 7843, MCG 2-32-176, CGCG 70-216, VCC 1868, IRAS 12386+1209

Galaxies NGC 4637 and NGC 4638

NGC 4637, NGC 4638
NGC 4637, NGC 4638: Galaxies NGC 4637 (left) und NGC 4638 (right), SDSS9 [147]

The galaxy NGC 4638 is the brighter of the two with 12.1 mag and was discovered by Wilhelm Herschel on 15 March 1784. The immediately adjacent galaxy NGC 4637 with 14.8 mag was only discovered on 1 March 1854 by R. J. Mitchell, an assistant to Lord Rosse. Later there was a confusion in the identification of the two galaxies, which is why NGC 4638 has the smaller right ascension than NGC 4637, although in J. L. E. Dreyer's «New General Catalogue» its objects were sorted according to ascending right ascension. [196]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
NameRADecTypebMagvMagDimDreyer DescriptionIdentification, Remarks
NGC 463712 42 54.2+11 26 17Gx (S0)14.913.91.2 × 0.5Makes a D neb with h 1402 (?)UGC 7881, MCG 2-32-188, CGCG 71-7, VCC 1945
NGC 463812 42 47.3+11 26 33Gx (E-S0)12.111.22.2 × 1.4F, R, gbMNGC 4667, UGC 7880, MCG 2-32-187, CGCG 70-229, CGCG 71-6, VCC 1938

Galaxies NGC 4641, IC 809, 3665, 3670, 3684

Another five galaxies in the same field of view are listed here for the sake of completeness. They appear very small and inconspicuous. Images below are 3.8 x 2.9 arc minutes excerpts from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. [227] Galaxie IC 809 was assigned a number IC 3672 in the second edition of Dreyer's «Index Catalog».

NGC 4641
NGC 4641: [147]
IC 809
IC 809: [147]
IC 3665
IC 3665: [147]
IC 3670
IC 3670: [147]
IC 3684, PGC 42679
IC 3684, PGC 42679: [147]
Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
NameRADecTypebMagvMagDimDreyer DescriptionIdentification, Remarks
NGC 464112 43 07.6+12 03 05Gx (S0)14.213.21.2 × 1eF, pL, R, F * nr fUGC 7889, MCG 2-32-191, CGCG 71-11, VCC 1955, NPM1G +12.0332
IC 80912 42 08.7+11 45 15Gx (E0)14.213.21 × 1eF, pS, R, M 59 sIC 3672, UGC 7863, MCG 2-32-184, CGCG 70-225, VCC 1910
IC 366512 41 46.6+11 29 17Gx (Im)15.114.50.9 × 0.6F, S, R, difUGC 7855, MCG 2-32-180, CGCG 70-220, VCC 1890
IC 367012 41 55.0+11 46 24Gx (E2)16.015.00.5 × 0.4vS, R, bM
IC 367212 42 08.7+11 45 15dup14.213.21 × 1vF, vS, R, stell, I.C. 809 nIC 809, UGC 7863, MCG 2-32-184, CGCG 70-225, VCC 1910
IC 368412 42 26.5+11 44 22Gx (S0-a)16.015.11.1 × 0.4vF, vS, RVCC 1921

Finder Chart

The group of galaxies is located in the constellation Virgo, roughly on the line connecting the stars Vindemiatrix (ε Virginis) and Denebola (β Leonis), about 4° (outermost Telrad ring) from Vindemiatrix. The best time for observation are the months of February to June. Then the constellation is highest at night.

Chart Galaxies Messier 59 & Messier 60
Galaxies Messier 59 & Messier 60 in constellation Virgo. Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]

Visual Observation

400 mm Aperture: As expected, the galaxy M 60 appears as a structureless, oval spot with a bright centre. But also in NGC 4647, apart from the bright centre, no structure is visible. The supernova SN 2022HRS, which was discovered on 16 April 2022, appears as a bright little star next to the nucleus of the galaxy. — 400 mm f/4.5 Taurus Dobsonian, Glaubenberg, SQM 21.27, a bit windy, Sahara dust and hazy, 22. 5. 2022, Bernd Nies

More Objects Nearby (±15°)

References

145SIMBAD astronomical database; simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad
147Aladin Lite; aladin.u-strasbg.fr/AladinLite (2020-12-23)
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum; skysafariastronomy.com
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey; archive.stsci.edu/cgi-bin/dss_form
196Celestial Atlas by Curtney Seligman; cseligman.com/text/atlas.htm (2020-12-28)
199«Atlas Of Peculiar Galaxies», Halton Arp, 1966; Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 14, p.1 (1966); DOI:10.1086/190147; Bibcode:1966ApJS...14....1A
217The Messier Catalog (SEDS); messier.seds.org (2021-01-01)
227CDS Aladin Desktop; aladin.u-strasbg.fr/aladin.gml
243Messier 60; nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/messier-60 (2021-01-22)
244ODD GALAXY COUPLE ON SPACE VOYAGE; September 06, 2012 9:00AM (EDT); Release ID: 2012-38; hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2012/news-2012-38.html (2021-01-22)
245Bucking the trend; esahubble.org/images/potw1921a (2021-01-22)
246Messier 59; nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2018/messier-59 (2021-01-22)
277«Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; klima-luft.de/steinicke (2021-02-17)