Mega-mosaic of Coma-Virgo Galaxy Cluster

May 15, 2012

Virgo_Coma_colour_BW_small

Photographer
: Greg Parker
Summary Author: Greg Parker

The image above is a mega-mosaic of the Coma-Virgo galaxy cluster as observed from the New Forest Observatory near Brockenhurst, U.K. This revealing mosaic comprises over 40 hours of total exposure time, over a period of 4 years; color image at left and black and white negative at right. The center of the Coma-Virgo cluster is approximately 60 million light years distant. A small telescope is needed to see even the largest of these galaxies, which lie in the direction of the constellations of Virgo and Coma Berenices. Featured galaxies include M58 (bottom left, near edge of image), M89 (spiral at left center), M90 (upper left center), and M100 (spiral at top right). At lower center, below and slightly to the left of the curving Markarian's Chain of galaxies (at center), is the famous M87 "Smoking Gun" giant, elliptical galaxy. The bright star-like object to the left of M87 is an asteroid. If you look closely at the black and white image you can detect upwards of 100 spiral and elliptical galaxies.

Image details:  Mosaic measures 4.42 x 5.16 degrees; each of the 11 frames that went into making the mosaic required 4 hours of imaging using either 5 or 10 minute subs with a total imaging time of more than 40 hours. Hyperstar III used on the Celestron Nexstar C11 reflector telescope.