Messier 84

This elliptical is one of the many galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster.


60 million light-years

Apparent Magnitude




object type

Elliptical Galaxy

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image captures the galaxy Messier 84 — also known as NGC 4374 — an object from the Messier catalogue, published in its final version in 1781 by Charles Messier. This elliptical galaxy was discovered in March 1781 and lies about 60 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). The galaxy is part of the very heavily populated centre of the Virgo Cluster, a cluster which consists of more than 1000 galaxies. This image does not show the whole galaxy but only its very interesting centre, and is likely to be the best image of the region ever captured. Previous observations using Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) revealed a supermassive black hole in the centre of Messier 84. Astronomers found the supermassive black hole by mapping the motion of the gas and the stars which are caught in its grip. Next to its interesting centre Messier 84 is also known for its supernovae. Two supernovae have been observed within the galaxy. The first, SN1957 was discovered in 1957 and another, called SN1991bg, was discovered in 1991.
ESA/Hubble & NASA

Discovered by Charles Messier in 1781, M84 is an elliptical galaxy located 60 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. It is one of over a thousand galaxies that make up the Virgo cluster. With an apparent magnitude of 10.1, the galaxy can be spotted using a moderately sized telescope most easily during May.

core of M84 (left) and spectrograph plot (right)
The Hubble image on the left shows the bright core of M84 surrounded by a dark band of gas and dust. The plot on the right was generated by passing light from the core of the galaxy (bordered by the blue rectangle in the left image) through a Hubble spectrograph. Stars and glowing gases near the core of M84 are circling the galaxy’s central black hole at 880,000 miles per hour, so they appear to be moving rapidly toward Earth on the left half of the spectrum (colored blue) and receding on the right half (colored red).
Gary Bower, Richard Green (NOAO), the STIS Instrument Definition Team and NASA

This image of M84 combines observations taken by Hubble at both visible and infrared wavelengths. Although the image does not show the entire galaxy, it highlights one of M84’s most fascinating features: its central region. Previous Hubble observations of M84 taken with a spectrograph have indicated that the galaxy hosts a supermassive black hole at its core.

M84 is also notable for being the site of two stellar explosions called supernovas, one discovered in 1957 and the other in 1991.

For more information about Hubble’s observations of M84, see:

locator star chart for M84
This star chart for M84 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium

Explore Hubble's Messier Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Messier objects.

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Messier 1 (The Crab Nebula)

Better known as the Crab Nebula, Charles Messier originally mistook Messier 1 for Halley’s Comet, which inspired him to create…

A Hubble image of a ball of thousands of stars

Messier 2

Hubble's image of Messier 2 is comprised of visible and infrared wavelengths of light.

Hubble view of M3 - a ball of thousands of stars.

Messier 3

Messier 3 holds more than 500,000 stars.