Markarian chain, Messier 84, Messier 86 and companions

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Markarian chain - click for hi resolution image
Object: Markarian chain, cluster of galaxies in Virgo
Coordinates: RA: 12h 28m 29s DE: +13° 09' 11" (J2000)
Location, date: Bělečko (16.3., 21.3., 25.3.2012), The Czech Republic
Telescope: newton 200/800 mm, reducer/corrector 2" ASA 2KORRR 0.73x
Focal lenght, speed: 585 mm, f/2.9
Camera: G2-8300 Moravian Instruments
Senzor: KAF-8300, 17.96 x 13.52 mm, pixel 5.4 um
Expozure: LRGB 400:120:130:160 min (13+ hodin)
Filter: Astronomik LRGB filter set 31 mm
Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ6-Pro SynScan
Pointer: Pentax SDHF 75/500 mm

The spring sky from our latitude provides incredible views to the far ends of the universe. The picture presents distinct group of galaxies located approximately in the centre of the Virgo galaxy cluster, which is also the center of Local supercluster of galaxies. This cluster is one of the closest neighbors of the Local group of galaxies, which includes also the Milky Way. The center of this cluster is about 20 Mpc faraway, which is more than 65 million light-years [1]. This means that photons captured in this image left the galaxies around the time when asteroid collided with the Earth on the border of Cretaceous and Paleocene era and ended the dominance of dinosauruses.

The group of galaxies in the picture is among amateur astronomers known as Markarian chain owing to the position of brightest galaxies in the image. Prominent objects in the image are mainly two elliptical galaxies Messier 84 (NGC 4374) and Messier 86 (NGC 4406) on the right side of the picture. Another significant object is pair of interacting galaxies NGC 4435 and NGC 4438 whose structure is affected by an collision with a large elliptical galaxy M86 about 100 milion years ago [2].

Vybrané galaxie v souhvězdí Panny - klikněte pro větší rozlišení
Image 1. Some of the galaxies from image above. Click image for galaxy identification

One of the curiosities in the image is globular cluster belonging to the faraway galaxy NGC 4458. In the image below, cluster is barely visible point in the intersection of two indicative lines. However, when we take into consideration huge distance of the galaxy, it must be giant globular cluster, much bigger than cluster Omega Centauri belonging to our Milky Way.

Kulová hvězdokupa v galaxii NGC 4458 - klikněte pro větší rozlišení
Image 2. Globular cluster in the galaxy NGC 4458

Some of the galaxies captured on the sensor are fascinating, but most interesting objects which can be found in the image are quasars (quasi-stellar objects). As the name suggests, it is the object with stellar appearence, but have nothing to do with stars. These objects lies in unimaginable depths, on the borders of today observed universe. Quasars are also the brightest sources of radiation in outer space.

The definition says that quasars are objects with large redshift in the spectrum, broad spectral lines and the small size relative to galaxies. It is assumed that quasars are part of the early stages of galaxies evolution. Quasars are found mostly in the center of the host galaxies and their luminosity exceeds several times luminosity of entire galaxy. For a long time, speculations about the source of energy that powers the quasars arose, due to the fact that fusion is not able to release such amount of energy. Based on current knowledges, it is assumed that in the center of the quasar is a supermassive black hole capable to release up to 60% of the potential energy from material falling to it. Quasars usually composed from three parts [3]:

  1. Supermassive black hole with mass millions to billions of solar masses
  2. Accretion disc in which matter in spiral fall to the black hole
  3. Jets of relativistic particles from the poles

Image bellow presents 17 quasars identified in my picture by means of Aladin Sky Atlas and NED database (NASA/IPAC EXTRAGALACTIC DATABASE) [4,5]. The most distant quasar, labeled SDSS J122602.10+132114.5 has red shift z= 3.532 and is located approximately 11.5 billions light-years far from Earth [4]. It is the most distant object captured by me, so far (2012). In the table below can be found some basic data about the quasars identified in the image.

Table 1. List of quasars identified in the picture. Quasars are sorted according to redshift "z"
Catalog numberRADEzMagnitudeDistance GLy
2MASX J12270987+1248542 12h 27m 09.8s +12° 48' 55" 0.194 18.7 2.296
SDSS J122723.75+135245.5 12h 27m 23.7s +13° 52' 46" 0.349 19.3 3.737
SDSS J122628.22+134913.6 12h 26m 28.2s +13° 49' 14" 0.350 20.7 3.740
SDSS J122757.20+130232.8 12h 27m 57.2s +13° 02' 33" 0.659 19.2 5.894
SDSS J122830.46+123617.8 12h 28m 30.5s +12° 36' 18" 0.734 18.9 6.308
LBQS 1222+1310 12h 24m 48.1s +12° 54' 13" 1.062 18.1 7.761
[HB89] 1222+131 NED02 12h 25m 11.9s +12° 51' 54" 1.255 18.4 8.405
SDSS J122556.21+130656.2 12h 25m 56.2s +13° 06' 56" 1.350 19.3 8.682
SDSS J122515.65+124441.0 12h 25m 15.6s +12° 44' 41" 1.664 19.2 9.435
LBQS 1222+1334 12h 25m 28.4s +13° 17' 25" 1.794 17.7 9.692
SDSS J122634.11+131048.9 12h 26m 34.1s +13° 10' 49" 1.814 19.5 9.727
LBQS 1224+1349 12h 26m 35.6s +13° 32' 52" 1.838 18.2 9.771
SDSS J122654.39+135029.0 12h 26m 54.4s +13° 50' 29" 2.008 19.1 10.057
LBQS 1224+1244 12h 27m 13.2s +12° 28' 04" 2.160 18.2 10.281
[HB89] 1226+130 12h 28m 58.0s +12° 45' 28" 2.502 20.5 10.702
SDSS J122826.33+130106.2 12h 28m 26.3s +13° 01' 06" 3.230 19.8 11.333
SDSS J122602.10+132114.5 12h 26m 02.1s +13° 21' 15" 3.532 19.2 11.525
Vybrané kvasary v souhvězdí Panny - klikněte pro větší rozlišení
Image 3. Quasars identified in the image. Click for "full field" image with positions of quasars


[2] Kenney,J.D.P., Tal,T., Crowl,H.H., Feldmeier,J., & Jacoby,G.H. 2008, The Astrophysical Journal, 687, L69

[3] Kleczek J., Velká encyklopedie vesmíru, Academia, 2002