Saturday, October 25, 2008

Power and Glory

I went visiting the Perseus Cluster the other night to wallow in all that celestial energy. This cluster of galaxies, located 250 million light-years beyond our own planet is one of the largest clusters of galaxies in the universe with over 1000 galaxies within it. At the center of the cluster is the galaxy NGC 1275 (also known as Perseus A). Using my telescope access I took this image and labeled some of the larger and closer galaxies within the cluster. Although you cannot see it NGC1275 has a super-massive black hole that directly affects the galaxy's energy levels and temperatures. Click on the image to enlarge it to see the labels.

Now there is an immense amount of energy within this system and I wanted to get a better idea of how that would look. So I used a software program, DS9, that allows me to use false color to display a more graphic presentation of the power and glory of this system. Here is that picture without the labels, but NGC 1275 is still in the center. You can again click on the image to enlarge it. The color bar at the bottom is based upon color temperature which partially reveals the scope and intensity of the energy in the galaxies in this astrophotograph. It also allows us to see a few more of the distant galaxies within the cluster.

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