NGC 4649 (Arp 116, M60) is an interacting galaxy located 54.9 million light
years from the Earth in the constellation Virgo.
Arp 116 (Interacting Galaxy, M60) : Picture
Messier 60 and NGC 4647(Upper Right)
The galaxy pair Arp 116. The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is much
lower in mass and about two thirds the size of Messier 60, which occupies
the center of this image. NGC4647 is roughly the size of our galaxy, the
Two very different galaxies drift through space together in this image
taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The peculiar galaxy pair is called
Arp 116 is composed of a giant elliptical galaxy known as Messier
60, and a much smaller spiral galaxy, NGC 4647.
Messier 60 is the third
brightest galaxy in the Virgo cluster of galaxies, a collection of more than
1,300 galaxies. Messier 60 has a diameter of 120,000 light-years, and a mass of
about one trillion times that of the sun. A huge black hole of 4.5 billion solar
masses lies at its center, one of the most massive black holes ever
The faint bluish spiral galaxy NGC 4647 is about two thirds of
Messier 60 in size and much lower in mass -- roughly the size of our galaxy, the
Astronomers have long tried to determine whether these two
galaxies are actually interacting. Although looking at them from Earth, they
overlap, but there is no evidence of new star formation, which would be one of
the clearest signs that the two galaxies are indeed interacting. However, recent
studies of very detailed Hubble images suggest the onset of some tidal
interaction between the two.
This video zooms in from a view of the night sky, through the constellation of Virgo, and into a Hubble view of galaxy pair Arp 116.
Pan across Arp 116
This video shows Hubble observations of Arp 116, a pair of galaxies in the constellation of Virgo. It is made up of M60, a large elliptical galaxy, and a smaller, bluer spiral galaxy, NGC 4647. It has long been unclear whether the two galaxies are actually interacting, or whether they simply appear close together from our distant vantage point. However, detailed studies of Hubble pictures suggest that the pair are beginning to experience tidal forces.