eso9203 — Science Release
First Optical Images of the "Invisible" Counter-Jet in Giant Galaxy M87
25 February 1992: Messier 87 (M87) is a giant galaxy, situated right at the centre of one of the largest and nearest clusters of galaxies, the Virgo Cluster; its distance is about 50 million light-years) and several thousand galaxies belong to this cluster, but none is brighter and heavier than Messier 87. Already in 1918, photos showed the presence of a jet in M87, i.e. a long and thin feature, extending in a westerly direction from the centre of this galaxy. This jet bears witness to the violent processes at the centre of M87 and has led many astronomers to think that there is a giant black hole in there. Recent observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have strengthened this suspicion.