Messier Monday: A Most Unusual Elliptical, M105 (Synopsis)

“The line that describes the beautiful is elliptical. It has simplicity and constant change. It cannot be described by a compass, and it changes direction at every one of its points.” –Rudolf Arnheim

It’s not every day that a nearby, well-studied galaxy turns your understanding of an entire class of common objects — in this case, elliptical galaxies — on its head. But Messier 105 is not your typical elliptical galaxy!

Image credit: Rick Beno of Conferring With The Sky Observatory, via http://www.conferringwiththesky.org/displayimage.php?pid=500.
Image credit: Rick Beno of Conferring With The Sky Observatory, via http://www.conferringwiththesky.org/displayimage.php?pid=500.

At 32 million light-years distant, it’s one of the closest giant ellipticals to us. Although it’s by no means isolated, it’s in a galactic group only a few times as massive as our own. And yet, when we look inside, instead of a “dead and red” galaxy where all the stars are old and burning out, we find a plethora of new ones, including newly formed star clusters!

Image credits: SDSS (outermost), HST / WFC3 (innermost), University of Michigan / H. Alyson Ford / Joel. N. Bregman (all).
Image credits: SDSS (outermost), HST / WFC3 (innermost), University of Michigan / H. Alyson Ford / Joel. N. Bregman (all).

Go and read the whole story of this remarkable object.