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Jet in M87

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#1 Bill Weir

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Posted 27 April 2008 - 11:33 PM

It is not the first time that I've observed it but on the night of April 25, 2008 I chose the Jet in M87 as one of my observing goals for that evening. In order to accomplish this task I went to Pearson College and opened up the dome that houses Jack Newton's old f/5, 25 inch GEM mounted newtonian.

While I waited for the air in the dome to stabilize I tried for the jet using my f/5 12.5" dob. At best I have suspicions I may have glimpsed it at 445X magnification. Without tracking though, there was not enough time with the object in the field of view to be definate. (make mental note, keep saving for the ServoCat)

Later in the dome, with the aide of the steady tracking of the mount I able to employ a power of 635X magnification. The galaxy practically filled the field of view. The core glowed brightly and the stellar nucleus was easily visible. The seeing wasn't the best but at times when it steadied, I could see a thin bright line extending from the core. It always "popped out" in exactly the same spot. I did the accompanying sketch. I then had to determine directions. In order to do this I had to climb down the ladder, switch off the tracking, then race back up the ladder to the eyepiece to watch the galaxy drift out of the field. This wasn't as easy a task as it should have been because the batteries in my little red flashlight were dying and it took awhile to find the on/off swithch.

Later, comparing images of the galaxy and jet I was able to match up the few stars visible at the eyepiece. Their orientation confirm that what I was seeing corresponds with the direction that the jet would be pointing. This direction is slightly north of west.

Here is the sketch that I did of M87 with its plasma jet using an f/5 25" newtonian reflector at 635X. The seeing was A 3, and the SQM reading was 21.14.

Bill

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2356404-Jet in M87 smaller.jpg


#2 kcolter

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 06:31 AM

Bill
Congrats on your observation of the M87 jet. The jet in M87 is a windmill I have tilted at many times over the last few years, largely without success. I believe that my observing friend, Bob Kirschenmann, and I saw it about a month ago. All my attempts have been with a 40 inch f5 Dob from Missouri. My observing site is "Midwest dark", not western national park dark. What Bob and I observed a month ago I believe to be the "knots" that one notices in astrophotos of the jet, they were seen a bit farther out from the bright core of the nucleus than what your nice drawing depicts. They shared the same orientation relative to the little right triangle of stars on the side of the galaxy opposite the jet. I tried a number of eyepieces that night. If what I saw was the "knots" in the more distal part of the jet, I saw it in several different eyepieces. I saw it best in a Zeiss 10mm Abbe ortho (500X), an eyepiece that I rarely use in the big Dob. It was seen better in the Zeiss Abbe than in a 9mm Nagler, but was visible in both.
I suspect that one of the keys to your successful observation of this challenging target is to be found in your signature line, "observing sessions grand total for 2007, 171. So far in 2008, 42." If you are out there over and over, you will be there on the night when the conditions are just right to see such a challenge object. I suspect that the jet of M87 requires a night offering excellent seeing and good transparency. Those factors are often mutually exclusive in the midwest.

#3 tatarjj

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 08:26 AM

I'm surprised you've had any trouble at all, kcolter. A year ago, with my 18", I clearly saw the jet in M87. At first glance it appeared as a very slight brightening to one side of M87's core at 410X. Upon closer inspection, the brightening appeared elongated, pointing away from the core as expected. I made a sketch of the position angle of this feature with respect to a couple background stars just to confirm. When I compared the sketch to images, it was almost an exact match of the images, confirming what I had seen at the eyepiece. That said, I didn't really absolutely HAVE to have the sketch, because it wasn't too terribly tough of a target at the eyepiece- it was pretty clearly above the "adverted imagination" threshold.

#4 nytecam

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 02:27 PM

great jet ob Bill :bow: your orientation spot-on with my pic via 12" SCT :rainbow:

#5 Bill Weir

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Posted 28 April 2008 - 10:31 PM

Thanks guys.

John, one advantage you have is living in an area that has pretty good seeing on average. The seeing on Friday night could never have qualified as good. I'd say A 3 at best. Transparency was only average.

I got skunked on Hickson 50. I'm pretty sure I was a tad off with my field orientation by about 5'. I have a better image now and hope to give it a go again tonight. The hard part is pointing that big metal tube on that giant Eq straight up at the zenith.

Bill

#6 kcolter

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 07:58 AM

Bill
I'm impressed that you are able to use mags of 600+ when the seeing is a Pickering 3.
John
Maybe I need a tutorial from you and/or Bill in order to see the jet more easily. I know there was a night about six years ago when my other observing buddy, Mark Birkman, was able to see it and I wasn't. Perhaps I have an apraxia for the detection of relativistic jets.

#7 The Research Center

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 10:25 AM

Visual observation of M87's Jet, Overgaard, Arizona. May, 2006, 20"f4.2.

Armed with a photo from the article by Steve Coe "Explore the Virgo Cluster" in the April 2006 issue of Astronomy Magazine, I successfully identified the Jet of M87 using the anonymous galaxies within the halo of M87 to confirm orientation of the jet, as well as, not being confused by the anon galaxies.

In the article it mentions the jet not visible in amateur telescopes, so I decided to look for myself that night. A couple of weeks later at the Arizona's East Valley Astronomy Club's pre-meeting dinner I mentioned it to him as a very cool object to see and the error of his statement (plus another about what the brightest galaxy is in Virgo).

Challenge objects are fun, but it's not safe anymore to say something is not visible when amateurs can look through 20, 36, 40, soon for a 43, 60, and 82" scopes....

Steven

#8 kcolter

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 03:28 PM

Steven
Enjoyed reading about your 36 inch Dob in the recent Sky & Telescope. Reading your post, I am wondering if what I saw was an anonymous galaxy with the halo of M87 as opposed to the "braided knots" in the jet that are seen in astrophotos. Have you looked at M87 with your 36" yet? How do the two scopes (20" and 36") compare with respect to observing the jet?
There was one thing I wasn't clear on in the article about your scope. Do you have a drive system on your 36"? If so, I am eager to know what type. My 40" would be augmented greatly by a drive system. It would be nice to be able to come down the ladder and send the next observer up and have them find the object dead center in the eyepiece when they arrived.

#9 The Research Center

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 04:02 PM

Hi Kim, I'm glad you liked the article, thanks. I have not looked at the jet in the 36" yet. I'll post something when I do. I'm sure you were seeing the jet. The anon galaxies were noted for reference and they are not as tight to the core as the jet is.

As for a drive system for the 36". I'm designing a D'Autumn platform for it and am compiling a parts list. So right now it does not track. I had considered a ServoCat, but with such a moment-arm, 15 feet, I feared the splined gear would chew up the groundboard perimeter into which it's press-formed the mating pattern should someone push the scope like everyone is so used to doing with a Dob. I like pushing the scope around rather than the thought of always using a wireless remote control.

Having a double-sided ladder for two people at the eyepiece has helped, but I can't wait for tracking...

Steven

#10 David Knisely

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 04:44 PM

Visual observation of M87's Jet, Overgaard, Arizona. May, 2006, 20"f4.2.

Armed with a photo from the article by Steve Coe "Explore the Virgo Cluster" in the April 2006 issue of Astronomy Magazine, I successfully identified the Jet of M87 using the anonymous galaxies within the halo of M87 to confirm orientation of the jet, as well as, not being confused by the anon galaxies.

In the article it mentions the jet not visible in amateur telescopes, so I decided to look for myself that night. A couple of weeks later at the Arizona's East Valley Astronomy Club's pre-meeting dinner I mentioned it to him as a very cool object to see and the error of his statement (plus another about what the brightest galaxy is in Virgo).

Challenge objects are fun, but it's not safe anymore to say something is not visible when amateurs can look through 20, 36, 40, soon for a 43, 60, and 82" scopes....

Steven


I think Jay Reynolds Freeman picked up the jet somewhat marginally in his 14 inch Celestron SCT, so as with many "challenge" objects that are deemed impossible in amateur instruments, it can indeed be seen by skilled eyes if enough aperture is used and if the conditions are right. Clear skies to you.

#11 tatarjj

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 08:14 PM

Bill
I'm impressed that you are able to use mags of 600+ when the seeing is a Pickering 3.


I donno, I really like really high powers on DSOs, potentially way past the point where planets supposedly "break down". Even "small" DSOs are typcially bigger than the typical size of the ENTIRE disk of Mars...


John
Maybe I need a tutorial from you and/or Bill in order to see the jet more easily. I know there was a night about six years ago when my other observing buddy, Mark Birkman, was able to see it and I wasn't. Perhaps I have an apraxia for the detection of relativistic jets.


Just keep at it and I guarentee you'll see it. Are you looking close enough to the core? It's pretty close in there. There should be an image somewhere on the internet that shows both the jet and the background to give you an idea of scale... yea, here's one: http://www.sbig.de/l...7_jet_gross.jpg
I think you'll see the entire jet as a whole rather than individual beads in it.. it's not THAT separated.

#12 stevecoe

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 01:34 AM

I have the article in the orginal form on my computer and it says that the jet in M 87 is not visible in a "modest amateur telescope". I choose my words very carefully. I do not have the article as published in front of me, maybe the wording was changed.

I am certain that if an article were to say that the 3 degree backround radiation is not visible in a two meter telescope on a night with 8 out of 10 seeing at a magnification of over 2000X someone would be out looking tomorrow night. AND..say they saw it, you know "averted vision only".

Clear skies;
Steve Coe

#13 The Research Center

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 10:23 AM

Hi Steve, I'm not picking on the article, I always enjoy reading your publications! The article may have had the word 'modest', I'm not sure right now, but I did not think at the time I read it that the 20" was above the level needed. Either way, it challenged me to look, and I saw something, it does not get any cooler than that....

Steven

#14 tatarjj

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 11:53 AM

I think it would be best if publishers of observing articles tried to avoid minimum aperture estimates as much as possible. While a minimum aperture exists for ALMOST every object, it varies significantly from person to person, with the variance between persons depending on the size of the object, sky darkness, etc. Almost invariably, when a minimum aperture is quoted, it is WAY over the minimum aperture for an experienced observer from a very dark site. A prime example is the Horsehead nebula, which is almost always quoted as requiring "at least a 10" scope" but has been seen with binoculars and is REGULARLY spotted with 4" scopes. I know of a certain observer who was an intermediate at the time, and faintly saw the Horsehead through his 4.5" reflector, but didn't believe what his own eyes told because "it was impossible".

However, because typical of galaxies' small sizes, an estimate of minimum aperture required for them tends to be more accurate than for nebulae.

#15 Van Robinson

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 04:48 PM

We observed this with the 82" at 1500X at McDonald Observatory last night and it still wasn't easy.

#16 palsing

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 09:57 PM

We observed this with the 82" at 1500X at McDonald Observatory last night and it still wasn't easy.


Hi Van,

I had the opportunity to use that same telescope on that same object on a couple of specatcular nights in November 2006, and the jet was more than obvious. My notes say, in part;

"... the jet was a razor-thin golden streak that went from nearly the galaxy's center straight as an arrow out of the galaxy and a little beyond..."

#17 OldDeadOne

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Posted 30 April 2008 - 10:13 PM

That's got to be awesome someone can see that,especially from a 82" scope!

#18 kcolter

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 02:32 PM

How does one go about getting to observe with the 82 inch at McDonald? One is up in the early AM hours to see the M87 jet in November, right?

#19 palsing

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 05:36 PM

How does one go about getting to observe with the 82 inch at McDonald? One is up in the early AM hours to see the M87 jet in November, right?


I was with a group of 16 people who rented the telescope and operator for (2) complete back-to-back all-nighters.

My complete report for that night is here.

Edit: shortened the hyperlink :)

#20 Bill Weir

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Posted 01 May 2008 - 11:45 PM

How does one go about getting to observe with the 82 inch at McDonald? One is up in the early AM hours to see the M87 jet in November, right?


http://mcdonaldobser...rams/82SVN.html

They also have a 107" program.

Bill

#21 Kaizu

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 06:24 AM

To me, it is a challenge to image it, so :bow:

Kaizu

#22 BillFerris

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 10:12 AM

To me, it is a challenge to image it, so :bow:

Kaizu


The M87 jet is definitely a challenging visual target. It's a small, low contrast feature that is extremely difficult--if not impossible--in moderate aperture. When the seeing is very good, experienced observers using large aperture have reported it as being fairly obvious. But when the seeing is mediocre or poor...well, good luck and go a little heavy on the averted imagination.

Bill in Flag

#23 Mike Harvey

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 07:14 PM

The M87 jet is definitely a challenging visual target. When the seeing is very good, experienced observers using large aperture have reported it as being fairly obvious. But when the seeing is mediocre or poor...well, good luck and go a little heavy on the averted imagination.

Bill in Flag


I quite agree. I have NEVER visually observed the jet in apertures up to 32"!
Last night, at Chiefland, several of us spent quite a while looking for it with the 28" at magnifications up to 850X. Not even a hint! And we knew where to look!
INSERT MALLINCAM HERE:
Suddenly the jet is obvious...even with only a 7-second iteration.

Mike Harvey

#24 Bill Weir

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Posted 03 May 2008 - 09:43 PM

This is why I sketch. If I don't know the orientaion of a diffictlt object and then sketch it, and the sketch matches images, then I know I've seen it.

This was not an easy observation. The perception of the Jet was in those moments of flickers of steady in the seeing. It would pop in and out like one of those party noise makers that you blow into. It just kept happening in the same spot so that's where I made the mark that matches with images. It was never seen as a constant.

Bill

#25 kcolter

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Posted 04 May 2008 - 10:14 AM

I am relieved to read the last three posts by Bill Weir,Mike Harvey, and Bill Ferris. Last night was "as good as it gets" in Missouri. I went out to my 40 inch f5 and spent 45 to 60 minutes looking at M87 with many different eyepieces, mags, etc. I put my new Ethos in a 2X Powermate for the first time (770X) and tried multiple different mags between 370X and 770X. The CSC was all blue ink for a change. It might not have been the best seeing I have ever seen in Missouri, but it was pretty close. Did I see the jet? If the closest you can come is to say, "maybe", after 45 minutes, the answer is probably "no." I have studied the field on astrophotos so much that I know exactly where it is supposed to be. Did I suspect it--yes. When looking at the central star in the ring nebula, there are times when it winks at me and I am sure I am seeing it. There are times when I see a brief "wink" and wonder if our visual processing cortex is capable of having background noise, just the same way that CCD cameras have noise. I haven't figured out how to subtract the dark frame from the image I am seeing visually <g>. I would certainly agree with Bill Weir's assessment that "this is not an easy observation." I suspect that were I able to see it convincingly in the McDonald 82 inch, or the Mt. Wilson 60 inch (Jane Houston Jones report), that I might then be more convinced that the glimpses I am getting of it in 40 inches in Missouri are real. I should mention that I have tried to see the M87 jet at WSP in the Florida Keys on nights where the planetary seeing has convinced me that it is the best seeing I have ever seen in my life, and using a well collimated 20 inch Starmaster with Zambuto mirror have not seen it there, either.


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