The Markarian Chain in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster

April 30, 2019


Photographer: John Chumack
Summary Author: John Chumack 

Every spring I look forward to observing the Virgo Galaxy Cluster with my refractor telescope. Over 50 galaxies are visible in this wide field view showing just a portion of the sky in the constellation of Virgo. Click on the photo to see a more detailed view.

The Markarian Chain, in the heart of the Virgo Cluster, is a stretch of galaxies that form part of the Virgo Cluster. When viewed from here on Earth, the galaxies appear to lie along a smoothly curved line. Named after astrophysicist B. E. Markarian who discovered their common motion in the early 1960s, at least seven galaxies in the chain appear to move coherently, although others appear to be superposed by chance.

The two spiral galaxies of the interacting galaxy pair known as The Eyes can be seen at lower left center and the very left edge of this image (M88, a beautiful spiral galaxy). On the other side of the image the two very bright blotches, at right center, are both elliptical galaxies (M84 and M86). Note that none of these galaxies can be seen with the naked eye. Photo taken on March 11, 2018.

Photo Details: Canon 6D DSLR camera; Explore Scientific 100mm FCD APO refractor telescope; 96 minute exposure.