Katherine Seal

Katherine Seal

Modified & Updated: 08 Sep 2023

Source: Messier-objects.com

Messier 104, also known as the Sombrero Galaxy, is one of the most intriguing objects in our vast universe. Situated around 28 million light-years away from Earth, this stunning galaxy has captured the attention of astronomers and stargazers alike. Its unique appearance, resembling a hat or a sombrero, sets it apart from other galaxies in the cosmos.

Exploring the fascinating characteristics of Messier 104 brings us closer to understanding the wonders of our universe. From its mesmerizing structure to its intriguing composition, this article will delve into 18 astounding facts that make Messier 104 a celestial marvel worth exploring. So, buckle up and get ready for an intergalactic journey through the magnificent world of Messier 104!

Table of Contents

Messier 104 (M104) is commonly known as the Sombrero Galaxy.

Named after its resemblance to a wide-brimmed hat, the Sombrero Galaxy is a spiral galaxy located approximately 28 million light-years away from Earth.

The Sombrero Galaxy is part of the Virgo Cluster.

It is one of the largest and brightest galaxies within the Virgo Cluster, which is a large group of galaxies located in the constellation Virgo.

Messier 104 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781.

Méchain, a French astronomer, first observed the Sombrero Galaxy and reported it to Charles Messier, who later included it in his famous astronomical catalog.

The Sombrero Galaxy has a distinctive black band of dust in its center.

This dark band of dust is believed to be a result of the galaxy’s active central nucleus, which contains a supermassive black hole.

Messier 104 has an apparent magnitude of 9.0.

While it can be observed with a small telescope, the Sombrero Galaxy is more visible in larger telescopes due to its relatively low brightness.

The Sombrero Galaxy has a diameter of approximately 50,000 light-years.

It is slightly smaller than our own Milky Way galaxy, which has a diameter of about 100,000 light-years.

The central bulge of Messier 104 is composed of older stars.

Within the galaxy, the central bulge contains a population of older stars, while the surrounding disk consists of younger, star-forming regions.

M104 has an estimated mass of 800 billion times that of the Sun.

Its immense mass contributes to the gravitational pull that keeps its stars in orbit.

The Sombrero Galaxy has a prominent dust lane around its equator.

This dust lane is a result of the galaxy’s structure and rotation, and it significantly obscures the light emitted from the galaxy’s central bulge.

Messier 104 has a prominent halo of globular clusters.

Globular clusters are tightly bound groups of stars that orbit around the central region of a galaxy. The Sombrero Galaxy has been observed to have at least 2,000 globular clusters.

The Sombrero Galaxy experienced a collision with another galaxy.

Studies have revealed evidence of a past merger event with a smaller galaxy, which likely contributed to the formation of the dust lane and the disruption of the galaxy’s structure.

Messier 104 is a popular target for amateur astronomers.

Due to its unique appearance and relative brightness, the Sombrero Galaxy is frequently observed and imaged by amateur astronomers around the world.

The Sombrero Galaxy is best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere during the spring months.

During these months, the galaxy is high in the sky and can be easily observed with a telescope or a pair of binoculars.

M104 is located in the constellation Virgo.

The Sombrero Galaxy can be found in the southern part of the Virgo constellation, near the border with the constellation Corvus.

It takes approximately 40 million years for light to travel from Messier 104 to Earth.

Due to the vast distance between the galaxy and Earth, the light we observe from the Sombrero Galaxy today has been traveling for around 40 million years.

The Sombrero Galaxy has an active galactic nucleus (AGN).

The active galactic nucleus of M104 emits high-energy radiation and jets of particles, indicating the existence of a supermassive black hole at its center.

Messier 104 has been the subject of various scientific studies and observations.

Astronomers have used advanced telescopes and instruments to study the properties, morphology, and dynamics of the Sombrero Galaxy in order to further our understanding of spiral galaxies and their evolution.

The Sombrero Galaxy serves as a source of inspiration and wonder for stargazers and enthusiasts alike.

Its distinctive appearance and intriguing features have captivated the imaginations of individuals throughout history and continue to inspire a sense of awe and curiosity about the vastness of our universe.


In conclusion, Messier 104 (M104), also known as the Sombrero Galaxy, is truly a fascinating celestial object. Its unique features and characteristics make it a favorite among astronomers and stargazers alike. From its distinct shape resembling a wide-brimmed hat to its massive central black hole, M104 is a source of awe and wonder.The 18 astounding facts about Messier 104 highlighted in this article delve into its age, size, composition, and astronomical significance. From the fact that it is approximately 29 million light-years away from Earth to its estimated age of 8-10 billion years, M104 continues to captivate scientists and enthusiasts with its mysteries.Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or simply intrigued by the wonders of the universe, exploring the marvels of Messier 104 provides a glimpse into the vastness and complexity of outer space. Its beauty serves as a reminder of the infinite wonders that await us beyond our own small planet.


1. How far is Messier 104 from Earth?

Messier 104 is approximately 29 million light-years away from Earth.

2. What is the shape of Messier 104?

Messier 104 has a distinct shape resembling a wide-brimmed hat, earning it the nickname “Sombrero Galaxy.”

3. How old is Messier 104?

Messier 104 is estimated to be 8-10 billion years old.

4. Does Messier 104 have a central black hole?

Yes, Messier 104 possesses a massive central black hole, estimated to have a mass of about 1 billion times that of our Sun.

5. Can Messier 104 be seen with the naked eye?

No, Messier 104 cannot be seen with the naked eye. It requires a telescope to observe its remarkable features.