Image of the Day: The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies

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Image of the Day: The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies

What mysteries lurk here! This deep image of the Virgo Cluster comprises approximately 1300 to 2000 member galaxies, forming the heart of the larger Local Supercluster, of which the Local Group is an outlying member.The image shows the diffuse light between the galaxies belonging to the cluster. North is up, east to the left. The dark spots indicate where bright foreground stars were removed from the image. The giant elliptical galaxy, Messier 87 is the largest galaxy in the picture (lower left). This giant agglomeration of galaxies is the nearest big cluster of galaxies, the largest proven structure in our intergalactic neighborhood, and the most remote cosmic objects with a physical connection to our own small group of galaxies, the Local Group, including our Milky Way galaxy.

The cluster is a mixture of spirals and elliptical galaxies, which are more centrally concentrated than the spiral galaxies. Because of the Virgo Cluster's enormous mass, its strong gravity accelerates the member galaxies to considerably high peculiar velocities, up to over 1500 km/sec, from the cluster's center of mass.

Image credit: ESO

Image credit: ESO

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