Messier 84, Messier 86 and the Eyes Galaxies

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Messier 86 is the huge elliptical galaxy located at the center of this two-panel mosaic. Messier 84 is located near the right border and the Eyes Galaxies are located at the left border (see annotated image below). These galaxies, located in the Virgo Cluster, form the lower right (Southwest) half of the so-called Markarian Chain.

The remarkable feature in this image is the presence of  bright red, ionized Hydrogen II clouds between M86 and NGC 4438. These two galaxies seem to have undergone a gravitational encounter in the not so distant past. As a result, the least massive galaxy (NGC 4438) has been visibly distorted. This encounter could explain the presence of stripped away Hydrogen clouds that show up here between both galaxies. But there is some debate as whether these clouds are indeed at the same distance as the galaxies (and thus, the result of the collision) or they are just galactic cirri (a frequent phenomenon), belonging to our galaxy and, just by coincidence, angularly, in this area. Additional research is being conducted to clarify this question. These clouds were taken with binned 30-minute exposures to add up to over 37 hours.



Additional Information


Name(s): M86, M84. NGC 4438, NGC 4435

Type: Elliptical and Spiral galaxies

RA:  12h 26m 11s

Dec: +12º 56’ 53”

Constellation: Virgo

Size (arcmin): 12×6 arcmin

Magnitude: +8.9

Distance: 55 Mly


Date: 2021-03-19 to 2021-05-18

Location: Curiosity2 Observatory, New Mexico Skies, Mayhill, NM, USA

Size (arcmin): 48×32 arcmin

Telescope: 24” (61 cm) f/6.5 Reflector

Camera: FLI PL16803 (4096x4096pix)

Guiding: Astrodon MonsterMOAG off-axis guider

Total exposure: 66h 45m (L: 10 hours; Ha: 37h 30m; RGB: 19h 15m)

Processing: CCDStack, Photoshop CC 2021



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