This image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Messier 85 galaxy in its full, hazy splendor. It is situated about 50 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair) and was first discovered by Charles Messier’s colleague Pierre Méchain in 1781. This galaxy is included in the Messier catalog of celestial objects, a collection of 110 astronomical objects that were compiled by Charles Messier in the 18th century. The image captures the delicate beauty and immense size of Messier 85, and its moody appearance serves as a reminder of just how vast and mysterious our universe is.
Messier 85 is an intriguing galaxy, as its properties seem to lie somewhere between those of a lenticular and an elliptical galaxy. It appears to be interacting with two of its neighbors, the beautiful spiral NGC 4394, located out of frame to the upper left, and the small elliptical MCG 3-32-38, located out of frame to the center bottom. These two interacting galaxies have been observed to be in a state of gravitational interaction, possibly due to the effects of tidal forces, and this has lead to speculation that Messier 85 may be beginning a transformation from either a lenticular or elliptical shape into that of a spiral.
The galaxy is estimated to contain around 400 billion stars, with most of them being ancient in nature. However, the core region is host to a population of much younger stars, with an estimated age of around just a few billion years. This is believed to have been caused by a late burst of star formation, likely occurred as Messier 85 collided with another galaxy approximately four billion years ago. Aside from this, Messier 85 also has another strange trait, as it is unclear whether the galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center or not, unlike other galaxies.