Galaxies Messier 89, Messier 90


The galaxy M 89 was discovered by Charles Messier on March 18, 1781. He wrote about M 89: «Nebula without a star, in the Virgo, somewhat distant and reported as No. 87 on the same parallel as the nebula. The light is very weak and rare, it can only be perceived with difficulty.» That same night, Messier also discovered M 90 and wrote the same thing about it as he wrote about M 89: «Nebula without a star, in Virgo: its light is about as weak as the previous No. 89.» [281]

IC 3583 was discovered on April 29, 1892 by the British astronomer Isaac Roberts. [196]

M 90 is listed as Arp 76 together with the small irregular companion galaxy IC 3583 in Halton Arp's 1966 «Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies» as an example of a galaxy with a small companion of high surface brightness. [199]

Messier 89
Messier 89: Image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope [215]

Physical Properties of Galaxy M 89

M 89 has about 100 billion stars and is an elliptical galaxy in the Virgo Cluster about 55 million light years away from us. Elliptical galaxies are usually in the shape of an elongated ellipsoid, but M 89 appears completely round to us. Presumably its long axis points in our direction. M 89 is slightly smaller than the Milky Way, but has some interesting features. A structure of gas and dust extends up to 150'000 light years from the center of the galaxy, which is home to a supermassive black hole. Jets with heated particles reach up to 100'000 light years out of the galaxy, suggesting that M 89 may once have been far more active than it is today. Maybe it was an active quasar or a radio galaxy. It is also surrounded by an extensive system of shells and plumes that may have been caused by previous mergers with smaller galaxies. M 89 as we know it today could possibly only have emerged in the relatively recent past. [215]

Messier 90
Messier 90: Galaxy M90 in Virgo; 500 mm Cassegrain 3625 mm f/7.2; SBIG STL11K; 120+40+40+40 min LRGB; Bernese Highlands; © 2011 Radek Chromik

Physical Properties of Galaxy M 90

M 90 is a beautiful spiral galaxy and about 59 million years away from us. It contains about one trillion (1012) stars and 1000 globular clusters. With the exception of the inner region, few new stars form in the arms. Past interactions with neighboring galaxies have probably taken gas and material that M 90 would need for the formation of new stars in the outer regions. In the future, M 90 could evolve into a lenticular galaxy. In contrast to most other galaxies, M 90 does not move away from us, but comes towards us. It seems to revolve around the colossal center of mass of the Virgo cluster. This is moving away from us, but the M 90 is moving faster. [215] Measured distances are ranging from 9 Mpc to 18 Mpc. [145]

IC 3583
IC 3583: Image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope [290]

Physical Properties of Galaxy IC 3583

IC 3583 is an irregular dwarf galaxy. According to measurements, it is at a distance of 8.2 to 17 Mpc (26 to 55 million light years) and lies in about the same distance as M 90. [145]

«Catalogue of Principal Galaxies (PGC)», Paturel et al. 1989 [144]
NameRA [hms]Dec [dms]mTypeDim [']Btot [mag]HRV [km/s]PA [°]
NGC 453112 34 16.1+13 04 34LB3.1 x 2.012.6189155
IC 354012 35 27.2+12 45 00L.6 x .414.6
NGC 4552, M 8912 35 39.9+12 33 25E5.3 x 4.810.9311
IC 358312 36 43.8+13 15 31IB M2.2 x 1.113.911160
NGC 4569, M 9012 36 50.0+13 09 48SB M9.9 x 4.410.2-23623
IC 358612 36 54.2+12 31 30L1.1 x 1.014.6

Finder Chart

The galaxy group is located in the constellation Virgo roughly on the line between the two stars Vindemiatrix (ε Virginis) and Denebola (β Leonis). The best observation time is February to June.

Chart Messier 89, Messier 90
Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]


144Catalogue of Principal Galaxies (PGC); Paturel G., Fouque P., Bottinelli L., Gouguenheim L.; Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 80, 299 (1989); (2021-02-18)
145SIMBAD astronomical database;
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
196Celestial Atlas by Curtney Seligman; (2020-12-28)
199Atlas Of Peculiar Galaxies, Halton Arp; (2020-12-28)
215Explore - The Night Sky | Hubble’s Messier Catalog; (2020-12-31)
281«Catalogue Nébuleuses et des Amas D'Étoiles» Observées à Paris, par M. Messier, à l'Observatoire de la Marine, hôtel de Clugni, rue des Mathurins. «Connoissance des temps ou connoissance des mouvements célestes, pour l'année bissextile 1784 » Page 227; (2021-02-21)
290Spotlight on IC 3583; (2021-03-02)