Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

November 13, 1995
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Virgo Cluster Galaxies
Credit: Photograph made from plates taken with the UK Schmidt Telescope. Color photography by David Malin.
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: Pictured are several galaxies of the Virgo Cluster, the closest cluster of galaxies to the Milky Way. The Virgo Cluster spans more than 5 degrees on the sky - about 10 times the angle made by a full Moon. It contains over 100 galaxies of many types - including spirals, ellipticals, and irregular galaxies. The Virgo Cluster is so massive that it is noticeably pulling our Galaxy toward it. The above picture includes two galaxies that are also Messier objects: M84 and M86. M84 is the bright elliptical galaxy just above the center of the photograph, and M86 is the bright elliptical galaxy to its right.

Tomorrow's picture: Aurora and Orion

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
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