Messier 54 (also known as M54 or NGC 6715) is a globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1778 and subsequently included in his catalog of comet-like objects.
M54 is easily found in the sky, being close to the
star ζ Sagittarii. It is, however, not resolvable into individual stars even with larger amateur telescopes.
Previously thought to belong to the
Milky Way at a distance from Earth of about 50,000 light-years, it was discovered in 1994 that M54 most likely belongs to the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy ( SagDEG), making it the first globular cluster formerly thought to be part of our galaxy reassigned to extragalactic status, even if not recognized as such for nearly two and a quarter centuries. As it is located on SagDEG's center, some authors think it actually may be its core;  however others have proposed that it is a real globular cluster that fell to the center of this galaxy due to decay of its orbit caused by  dynamical friction.
Modern estimates now place M54 at a distance of some 87,000 light-years,
translating into a true radius of 150 light-years across.  It is one of the denser of the globulars, being of  class III (I being densest and XII being the least dense). It shines with the  luminosity of roughly 850,000 times that of the Sun and has an absolute magnitude of −10.0.
Intermediate-mass black hole
In July 2009, a team of astronomers reported that they had found evidence of an
intermediate-mass black hole in the core of M54.
Map showing location of M54 (RobertoMura)
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Shapley, Harlow; Sawyer, Helen B. (August 1927). "A Classification of Globular Clusters". Harvard College Observatory Bulletin. 849 (849): 11–14. Bibcode: 1927BHarO.849...11S.
^ a b
Goldsbury, Ryan; et al. (December 2010). "The ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters. X. New Determinations of Centers for 65 Clusters". The Astronomical Journal. 140 (6): 1830–1837. arXiv: . 1008.2755 Bibcode: 2010AJ....140.1830G. doi: 10.1088/0004-6256/140/6/1830.
^ a b
Ramsay, Gavin; Wu, Kinwah (2005). "Chandra observations of the globular cluster M54". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 447: 199–203. arXiv: . astro-ph/0510217 Bibcode: 2006A&A...447..199R. doi: 10.1051/0004-6361:20053855.
^ a b c d e
"M 54". . SIMBAD Centre de données astronomiques de Strasbourg . Retrieved . 2006-11-16
^ a b From
trigonometry: radius = distance × sin( diameter_angle / 2 ) = 153 ly.
Geisler, Doug; Wallerstein, George; Smith, Verne V.; Casetti-Dinescu, Dana I. (2007). "Chemical Abundances and Kinematics in Globular Clusters and Local Group Dwarf Galaxies and Their Implications for Formation Theories of the Galactic Halo". . Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 119 (859): 939–961. arXiv: . 0708.0570 Bibcode: 2007PASP..119..939G. doi: 10.1086/521990.
Siegel, Michael H.; Dotter, Aaron; Majewski, Steven R.; Sarajedini, Ata; et al. (2007). "The ACS Survey of Galactic Globular Clusters: M54 and Young Populations in the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy". . Astrophysical Journal Letters 667 (1): L57–L60. arXiv: . 0708.0027 Bibcode: 2007ApJ...667L..57S. doi: 10.1086/522003.
Carretta, E.; Bragaglia, A.; Gratton, R. G.; Lucatello, S.; et al. (2010). "M54 + Sagittarius = ω Centauri". The Astrophysical Journal Letters. 714 (1): L7–L11. arXiv: . 1002.1963 Bibcode: 2010ApJ...714L...7C. doi: 10.1088/2041-8205/714/1/L7.
Bellazzini, M.; Ibata, R. A.; Chapman, S. C.; Mackey, A. D.; et al. (2008). "The Nucleus of the Sagittarius Dsph Galaxy and M54: a Window on the Process of Galaxy Nucleation". The Astronomical Journal. 136 (3): 1147–1170. arXiv: . 0807.0105 Bibcode: 2008AJ....136.1147B. doi: 10.1088/0004-6256/136/3/1147.
Ibata, R.; Bellazzini, M.; Chapman, S. C.; Dalessandro, E.; et al. (2009). "Density and Kinematic Cusps in M54 at the Heart of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy: Evidence for a 10 4 M ☉ Black Hole?". . Astrophysical Journal Letters 699 (2): L169–L173. arXiv: . 0906.4894 Bibcode: 2009ApJ...699L.169I. doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/699/2/L169.
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Coordinates: 18 h 55 m 03.28 s, −30° 28′ 42.6″