Hercules Galaxy Cluster

These are galaxies of the Hercules Cluster, an archipelago of island universes a mere 500 million light-years away. Also known as Abell 2151, this cluster is loaded with gas and dust rich, star-forming spiral galaxies but has relatively few elliptical galaxies, which lack gas and dust and the associated newborn stars. In the cosmic vista many galaxies seem to be colliding or merging while others seem distorted - clear evidence that cluster galaxies commonly interact. At the center of the image is NGC6050, two galaxies moving toward each other in what will likely result in the galaxies merging. In fact, the Hercules Cluster itself may be seen as the result of ongoing mergers of smaller galaxy clusters and is thought to be similar to young galaxy clusters in the much more distant, early universe. This image is 5 hours of total exposure beginning May 1, 2011 and ending May 6. There are galaxies throughout this image. Click on the magnifying glass to get a closer look. This image was taken under the control of CCDAutopilot 4, which positioned the telescope accurately on these faint objects, controlled the camera, and tracked the galaxies as they moved across the night sky. 



All images © Mel Martin 2017     Contact Me