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The Resolution of the
Advanced Camera for Surveys

Click on boxes for a "true resolution" image of that detail.

The Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) detector is the largest that has been placed onboard Hubble. Each detector is roughly 4096 x 4096 pixels and each pixel represents a view that is 0.05 arcseconds in the sky. The Heritage image of the Sombrero galaxy is a mosaic of six ACS pointings, (consecutive positions of the telescope arranged in a 3 x 2 matrix. The final result is the highest-resolution image of the Sombrero that has ever been taken with any ground- or space-based telescope made: nearly 12,000 pixels wide by 8,000 pixels high.

Movie of Sombero Galaxy:

Living on the Edge

Galaxies come in many shapes and sizes, but spiral galaxies that are tilted such that their disk is eye-level to our line of sight are in a unique class called "Edge-on Galaxies." These magnificant creatures give us a glimpse into the dusty structure that obscures much of the central nucleus.

From the Southern Hemisphere- the center of the Milky Way yields amazing dark dust lanes that are actually visible with the naked eye- it is incredibly evident that we live in a spiral galaxy. Because our solar system is located very close to the plane of the galaxy, in a dark site our own Milky Way appears to us as an edge-on spiral.

Below are several Hubble Heritage edge-on spirals with quite different looking disks. Click on each image to learn more.

NGC 4013



NGC 4650A

Check out the Sombrero Galaxy in the Infrared!

NASA's Spitzer Infrared Telescope also imaged the Sombrero Galaxy. Visit the press release for more details.


Waxing Poetic on the Sombrero

By Indiana University Emeritus Professor, Dr. Martin Burkhead

"A view of M104 under dark skies with the 82in at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas was simply wonderful. The best way to approach M104 was from south of the nucleus, driving the telescope north. With my eyes well dark adapted, the halo was first sensed, quite distant from the nucleus; then a dark band entered the field of view followed by the brilliant, almost stellar nucleus. At a magnification of 900 times and a field of view of 6 arc minutes, M104 filled the eyepiece. The nucleus was seen as a brilliant light in a foggy bowl surrounded by a dark band. I was able to measure the visual nucleus - 2.8 by 1.6 arc seconds. Visually the entire image was soft-foggy.

"Now in front of me I can see on this Hubble image a very much smaller, but still "boxy" nucleus at the center of a thin disk. Dust is apparent at the nucleus. To the south the dark band is filled with a complex mixture of dust and starlight. The spiral pattern can be traced throughout the disk. Are we seeing brilliant blue stars in the disk and along the dust lane? I believe I can distinguish globular clusters embedded in the halo. And what seems remarkable is that distant galaxies can be seen shining thru M104 right up to the edge of the disk. This is a beautiful image of a great spiral."

The Distance Modulus to the Sombrero galaxy can be calculated using the following formula:

(where m = apparent magnitude,
M = absolute magnitude and
D = distance).

Using D = 8.8 Megaparsecs and M =-10 or perhaps -5
m=19.7 and 24.7

"So it would seem we are seeing stars (clusters?) scattered in the disk (especially on the disk detail frame). What is the magnitude limit? Globular clusters at M = -8 would be at m = 21.7. I think I can identify some of these clusters.

"I still marvel at the work and skill it took to produce this image!"

- An interpretation of the Hubble image from a life-long Sombrero observer,
retired Indiana University astronomer, Martin Burkhead, who was also a university professor of Heritage team members Zolt Levay and Forrest Hamilton.