Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Markarian Chain

The Markarian Chain is a subgroup of galaxies belonging to the Virgo Cluster, the largest galaxy cluster located in the vicinity of the Local Group, 60 million light years away from Earth.

The galaxies that make up the chain are arranged on a curved line. They were named in honor of the Armenian astrophysicist Benjamin Markarian, who in the early 1960s discovered the common motion of soe of the components. However, it was not he who discovered the galaxies in the chain.

In fact, this honor goes to Charles Messier, who in 1781 observed for the first time the two lenticular galaxies in the lower right, M84 and M86. These two galaxies appear to share most of their physical characteristics. Both are in fact radio waves sources and have a mass of about 500 billion solar masses and a diameter of 125,000 light years. Both are then orbited by a large number of globular clusters.

The remaining components of the chain were later discovered by William Herschel.

Credit: Rogerio Bernal Andreo.

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