Astronomy Picture of the Day

Virgo Cluster Galaxies
Image Credit & Copyright: Fernando Pena

Explanation: Galaxies of the Virgo Cluster are scattered across this deep telescopic field of view. The cosmic scene spans about three Full Moons, captured in dark skies near Jalisco, Mexico, planet Earth. About 50 million light-years distant, the Virgo Cluster is the closest large galaxy cluster to our own local galaxy group. Prominent here are Virgo’s bright elliptical galaxies from the Messier catalog, M87 at the top left, and M84 and M86 seen (bottom to top) below and right of center. M84 and M86 are recognized as part of Markarian’s Chain, a visually striking line-up of galaxies vertically on the right side of this frame. Near the middle of the chain lies an intriguing interacting pair of galaxies, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435, known to some as Markarian’s Eyes. Of course giant elliptical galaxy M87 dominates the Virgo cluster. It’s the home of a super massive black hole, the first black hole ever imaged by planet Earth’s Event Horizon Telescope.

Tomorrow’s picture: pinnacles of sky

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