Astronomical Observations #34: Markarian's Chain

in #steemstem3 years ago (edited)

Welcome to the next episode of an observation journey through the most beautiful objects of the night sky! This time something less known, but still within the reach of amateur observers. The Markarian's Chain is an amazing arrangement of galaxies, forming a series called a chain. This is the only galactic system visible in an amateur telescope.

Markarian's chain on an amateur photo

By Hewholooks link [CC BY-SA 3.0 license]

The name of the galaxy cluster refers to a view from the Earth that resembles a curved chain. It was named after an Armenian astrophysicist, Benjamin Markarian, who discovered the group in the early 1960s. The brightest galaxies in the chain are Messier 84 (NGC 4374), Messier 86 (NGC 4406), NGC 4477, NGC 4473, NGC 4461, NGC 4458, NGC 4438, and NGC 4435. The research of this galactic group shows that a minimum of seven galaxies is connected with each other in this formation. Others may be at different distances and only temporarily be part of the chain. Let's take a closer look at the more interesting objects of the Markarian's Chain, which is located in the constellation of the Virgo and is part of the large group of galaxies in Virgo.

Messier 84 is the lightest object of the entire chain. It is a lenticular galaxy discovered in 1781 by Charles Messier (creator of Messier's catalog). About 60 million light years divide us from this object. However, the object's diameter is about 87,000 light years. The galaxy has the brightness observed + 9 magnitude. So it is an object visible in binoculars under a good dark sky. The entire chain, on the other hand, requires a telescope and a large diameter, to see as many galaxies in the area as possible, instruments with diameters from 12 inches upwards are needed. In good observation conditions, the use of such a "light collector" will allow you to see a view similar to that from the first photo of the article in a small magnification eyepiece. The use of an eyepiece with a wide field of view is recommended. Otherwise, we will not be able to see the entire chain in one field without moving the telescope.
A good solution for observing objects of this type would be a large 25 X 100 binoculars. It would allow to cover the area of ​​view larger than the whole chain, in addition, the view of two eyes would give the impression of three-dimensionality. A very interesting object of the chain is a duet of galaxies NGC 4438 and NGC 4435 called "Eyes". During the observation of this couple by amateur telescope, we have the impression that we can see glowing eyes in the dark. Observing by a large instrument, we can be tempted here to increase magnification, because these objects have quite small angular dimensions in the sky. To sum up, for telescope owners during spring nights the constellation of the Virgo serves a huge river of galaxies, the most remote and at the same time the most demanding objects, in need of a dark sky, free from urban light pollution. So, with the opportunity to spend spring nights outside the city, we can try to hunt this galactic chain. The dark sky, comfortable chair and 15 X 70 binoculars are the easiest way to success.

Greetings to lovers of Astronomy!


Markarian's Chain
Messier 84
Messier 86
NGC 4438
NGC 4473
NGC 4477
NGC 4461
NGC 4435
NGC 4458
and my knowledge

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Great article @astromaniac! I was just last night photographed with my dslr and tripod Leo Triplets. I hope weather today will be good without clouds so I can photograph Markarian's chain which is just on the left side of Leo Triplets. :)

Thank you very much and I wish you successes in astrophotography! :)

Thanks astromaniac for showing these objects that are in space. I think that for me and for those who do not have the equipment to observe these objects, this is a great lactose. Regards.

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