The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as Messier Object 104, M104 or NGC 4594) is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo located 28 million light-years from Earth. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk.
The dark dust lane and the bulge give this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero. Astronomers initially thought that the halo was small and light, indicative of a spiral galaxy, but Spitzer found that the halo around the Sombrero Galaxy is larger and more massive than previously thought, indicative of a giant elliptical galaxy.
The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +9.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes, and it's considered by some authors to be the brightest galaxy within a radius of 10 megaparsecs of the Milky Way. The large bulge, the central supermassive black hole, and the dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.
The picture shown here was taken from the Atacama desert in Chile with a small (150mm diameter) refractor telescope (Takahashi TOA150) and a SBIG ST11000 CCD camera mounted on an Astelco NTM500 equatorial mount. Total exposure time is 6h20 minutes through Red, Green and Blue filters. Image acquisition and pre-processing by Stéphane, color processing by Thierry.