Messier 54

globular cluster

Messier 54 (or M54 or NGC 6715) is a globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1778. Later, he included it in his catalog of comet-like objects.

M54 was thought to belong to our Milky Way galaxy, but in 1994 it was discovered that M54 belongs to the Sagittarius dwarf elliptical galaxy ('Sag DEG'),[1]

M54 is some 87,000 light-years from us, and has a radius of 150 light-years across. It is one of the most dense globulars. It shines with the luminosity of roughly 850,000 times that of the Sun and has an absolute magnitude of −10.0.

M54 is easily found in the sky, being close to the star ζ Sagittarii. Individual stars cannot be seen with amateur telescopes.

It is on or near SagDEG's center. Some authors think it actually may be its core;[2] but others do not.[3]

In July 2009, a team of astronomers found evidence of a medium-sized black hole in the core of M54.[4]


  1. Siegel, Michael H.; 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.
  2. Carretta E.; 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.
  3. Bellazzini M.; 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.
  4. Ibata, R.; et al. (2009). "Density and kinematic cusps in M54 at the heart of the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy: evidence for a mass 104 (x Sun's mass) black hole?". Astrophysical Journal Letters. 699 (2): L169–L173. arXiv:0906.4894. Bibcode:2009ApJ...699L.169I. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/699/2/L169.