Share

News Release Archive:

News Release 93 of 296

June 10, 2008 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2008-24

Hubble's Sweeping View of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies

Back

Image: Hubble's Sweeping View of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies

Hubble's Sweeping View of the Coma Cluster of GalaxiesSTScI-PRC2008-24

Screen-use options: These files are created for viewing on your monitor

Print-use download options: These files are designed to fit on letter-size paper

Highest-quality download options
The best resolution available can be found here.

ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captures the magnificent starry population of the Coma Cluster of galaxies, one of the densest known galaxy collections in the universe.

The Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys viewed a large portion of the cluster, spanning several million light-years across. The entire cluster contains thousands of galaxies in a spherical shape more than 20 million light-years in diameter.

Also known as Abell 1656, the Coma Cluster is over 300 million light-years away. The cluster, named after its parent constellation Coma Berenices, is near the Milky Way's north pole. This places the Coma Cluster in an area unobscured by dust and gas from the plane of the Milky Way, and easily visible by Earth viewers.

Most of the galaxies that inhabit the central portion of the Coma Cluster are ellipticals. These featureless "fuzz-balls" are pale goldish brown in color and contain populations of old stars. Both dwarf, as well as giant ellipticals, are found in abundance in the Coma Cluster.

Farther out from the center of the cluster are several spiral galaxies. These galaxies have clouds of cold gas that are giving birth to new stars. Spiral arms and dust lanes "accessorize" these bright bluish-white galaxies that show a distinctive disk structure.

In between the ellipticals and spirals is a morphological class of objects known as S0 (S-zero) galaxies. They are made up of older stars and show little evidence of recent star formation; however, they do show some assemblage of structure — perhaps a bar or a ring, which may give rise to a more disk-like feature.

This Hubble image consists of a section of the cluster that is roughly one-third of the way out from the center of the cluster. One bright spiral galaxy is visible in the upper left of the image. It is distinctly brighter and bluer than galaxies surrounding it. A series of dusty spiral arms appears reddish brown against the whiter disk of the galaxy, and suggests that this galaxy has been disturbed at some point in the past. The other galaxies in the image are either ellipticals, S0 galaxies, or background galaxies far beyond the Coma Cluster sphere.

The data of the Coma Cluster were taken as part of a survey of a nearby rich galaxy cluster. Collectively they will provide a key database for studies of galaxy formation and evolution. This survey will also help to compare galaxies in different environments, both crowded and isolated, as well as to compare relatively nearby galaxies to more distant ones (at higher redshifts).

For additional information, contact:

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4514
villard@stsci.edu

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble/ESA, Garching Germany
011-49-89-3200-6306
lars@eso.org

Object Names: Coma Cluster, Abell 1656

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Acknowledgment: D. Carter (Liverpool John Moores University) and the Coma HST ACS Treasury Team

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Spiral Galaxy in the Coma Cluster, Part of a Larger Hubble Image Image Type: Astronomical Spiral Galaxy in the Coma Cluster, Part of a Larger Hubble Image Varied Galaxy Types in the Coma Cluster, a Section of a Larger, Detailed Hubble Image Image Type: Astronomical Varied Galaxy Types in the Coma Cluster, a Section of a Larger, Detailed Hubble Image Lenticular Galaxy in the Coma Cluster with Numerous Background Galaxies, a Detail of a Larger Hubble Image Image Type: Astronomical Lenticular Galaxy in the Coma Cluster with Numerous Background  Galaxies, a Detail of a Larger Hubble Image

All images from this news release:

To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: