M87 Optical Jet

4th March 2006
Object name: M87 3C 274, Virgo A
Object type: Galaxy
Magnitude: 9.6
Size: 8.3 6.6
Position angle: 17
Classification: E/P
Apparent RA: 12 30 49.4 Apparent Dec: +12 23 26
Constellation: Virgo

Lately I've been trying to get used to my Artemis 285 with some traditional targets - however, it was high time I tried for something a little more unusual. Optical jets.

Virgo is a very cluttered part of the sky. There are many galaxies in this area - Messier had a field day around here. M87 is a giant elliptical galaxy at the heart of the Virgo cluster. This galaxy contains a lifetime of study. Its two most famous features are its extensive network of globular clusters, and the optical jet from the core of the galaxy.

The top image here shows the area around M87, inluding numerous other galaxies such as NGC 4476, NGC 4478 and NGC 4486A/B. My exposures are not deep enough to reveal the globular clusters - I'd not expected to be able to do this, from my location the Virgo cluster is well illuminated by Portsmouth.

However, using shorter exposures and the dynamic range of the camera to my advantage it is possible to image the optical jet. The second image shows a processed closeup of the core area - the jet itself is clearly visible pointing up and to the right.

Hubble has many some rather stunning images of this jet.

This image was autoguided using my 400mm focal length refractor and my black and white SC1 webcam.

Captured in Artemis Capture. Frames calibrated, aligned and combined in Maxim. DDP applied. Finished up in photoshop

Exposure Details :

2x61s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
3x121s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
4x181s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285

Curdridge Observatory, Southampton,UK