NGC 4472

An Elliptical Galaxy within the Virgo Cluster, and the brighest of the objects in that Cluster to a telescopic observer on Earth. It was the first of the Virgo Cluster's galaxies to be discovered, by Charles Messier in 1771, who registered it as number 49 in his catalogue. It was by no means the last of the Virgo Cluster galaxies to be catalogued by Messier: he would add a further fifteen to his register over the following ten years, discovered by himself and others.

In the sky, M49 falls rather to the south of the main body of the Virgo Cluster, and it forms the heart of its own subcluster of galaxies, designated the Virgo B subcluster to distinguish it from the more populous Virgo A subcluster around M87 (Virgo A) to the north.

The M49 galaxy itself is Elliptical in form, classified as type E2 (relatively close to spherical, but nonetheless showing a distinctly ellipsoid form). An intense X-ray source, M49 is thought to harbour a massive black hole at its core, and further indications of black holes have been detected in the cloud of some 6,000 Globular Clusters that surround the M49 galaxy itself.


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