This gorgeous color photograph, obtained by David Malin with the UK Schmidt Telescope, portraits the heart of the Virgo cluster. In the lower left edge is bright giant elliptical M87, while in the right middle is nearly circular M84 and elongated M86, surrounded by fainter galaxies. The chain of galaxies reaching to the upper left from M84 and M86 is called Markarian's Chain.
The whole cluster is receding from us at over 1000 km/s, but M86 is moving so fast through it and toward us that it is effectively approaching us, one of the rare galaxies showing blueshifted lines in its spectrum. On deeper exposures, the 3 Messier galaxies are much more extended, more than half a degree (the Full Moon's apparent diameter) in case of M87, and show prominent distortion of their outlayers - no wonder in such a populated cosmic environment.
This image has been created from three photographic plates taken with the United Kingdom Schmidt Telescope (UKS), in the Blue (30 min; on IIa-O film with GG 385 filter), Green (30m; IIa-D/GG 495) and Red (90m; 098-04/RG 630) light, respectively (photographer of all 3 plates was John Barrow).
The image in this page is copyrighted and may be used for private purpose only. For any other kind of use, including internet mirroring and storing on CD-ROM, please contact the Photo Permissins Department (photo at aaoepp.aao.gov.au) of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
Last Modification: March 18, 1998