Posts Tagged ‘Galaxy Cluster’

04/16/2018 – Ephemeris – The Virgo cluster of galaxies

April 16, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, April 16th. The Sun rises at 6:56. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 8:29. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 9:16 this evening.

The stars around the constellation Leo and Virgo below and left of it feature relatively few stars, compared to those around Orion and the other winter constellations. That isn’t just a lot of blank sky, but beyond what can be seen with the naked eye in the region of southwestern Virgo, just to the lower left of the tail star Denebola of Leo is a vast cluster of galaxies that outnumber the stars of the same brightness in that direction. It is the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. Astronomers shorten the name to the Virgo Cluster. Two centuries ago the comet hunter Charles Messier swept this region with his small telescope and found many fuzzy bodies that could be confused with comets. He didn’t know what they were, but they sure weren’t comets, because they didn’t move against the stars.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Brighter members of the Virgo Cluster. Created using Stellarium.

Brighter members of the Virgo Cluster. Created using Stellarium. Open circles are galaxies, circles with crosses are globular star clusters, outlying members of our Milky Way galaxy. This image is from a few years ago – Saturn, above Spica, has moved on.


Happiness is being a massive galaxy cluster

February 10, 2015 Comments off
Galactic Smiley Face

In the centre of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 — and it seems to be smiling. You can make out its two orange eyes and white button nose. In the case of this “happy face”, the two eyes are very bright galaxies and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing. Galaxy clusters are the most massive structures in the Universe and exert such a powerful gravitational pull that they warp the spacetime around them and act as cosmic lenses which can magnify, distort and bend the light behind them. This phenomenon, crucial to many of Hubble’s discoveries, can be explained by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In this special case of gravitational lensing, a ring — known as an Einstein Ring — is produced from this bending of light, a consequence of the exact and symmetrical alignment of the source, lens and observer and resulting in the ring-like structure we see here. Hubble has provided astronomers with the tools to probe these massive galaxies and model their lensing effects, allowing us to peer further into the early Universe than ever before. This object was studied by Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) as part of a survey of strong lenses. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Judy Schmidt.

Credit: NASA/ESA

Caption: ESA

This image from the Hubble Space Telescope has been making the rounds.  It shows how a massive cluster of galaxies can warp space-time and distort the images of the galaxies behind it into arcs.  Here’s more from the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait.  It comes in time for Valentine’s day to brighten the dreary month of February.