Messier 85

This galaxy may be an elliptical galaxy or a lenticular galaxy.


60 million light-years

Apparent Magnitude



Coma Berenices

object type


Hubble image of M85
This moody image shows a galaxy named Messier 85, captured in all its delicate, hazy glory by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Messier 85 slants through the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair) and lies around 50 million light-years from Earth. It was first discovered by Charles Messier’s colleague Pierre Méchain in 1781 and is included in the Messier catalog of celestial objects.
NASA, ESA and R. O’Connell (University of Virginia)

M85 is either an elliptical or a lenticular galaxy. Lenticular galaxies have qualities of both elliptical and spiral galaxies and are sometimes called armless spirals. M85 is interacting with two neighboring galaxies, the spiral NGC 4394 and the elliptical MCG 3-32-38.

Located in the constellation Coma Berenices, M85 is a member of the Virgo cluster of galaxies and was discovered by Charles Messier’s colleague Pierre Méchain in 1781. It lies approximately 60 million light-years away from Earth and is best seen in May. With an apparent magnitude of 9.2, this galaxy is relatively faint and is not easy to spot with binoculars or small telescopes. In telescopes with 8-inch apertures M85 appears as a dim, elongated patch of light. Larger telescopes will reveal more detail in the galaxy.

About 4 billion to 7 billion years ago, M85 likely merged with another galaxy. M85 contains approximately 400 billion stars, and most of these stars are very old. However, the central region contains relatively young stars, under 3 billion years old, and these stars are thought to have formed in a late burst of star formation activity. The core of M85 may contain a supermassive black hole, and in 2006, astronomers spotted a supernova northeast of the galaxy’s center.

This image combines infrared, visible and ultraviolet observations of M85 taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3. The center of the galaxy is featured, with M85’s outskirts extending beyond the edges of the frame. The observations were taken to further understand star formation in a variety of galaxies.

For more information about Hubble's observations of M85, see:

locator star chart for M85
This star chart for M85 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.