PIA04210: Coma cluster of galaxies
Target Name: Coma cluster
Mission: Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)
Instrument: Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)
Product Size: 2106 x 2249 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: California Institute of Technology
Full-Res TIFF: PIA04210.tif (11.22 MB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA04210.jpg (783.8 kB)

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Atlas Image mosaic, covering 34 34 on the sky, of the Coma cluster, aka Abell 1656. This is a particularly rich cluster of individual galaxies (over 1000 members), most prominently the two giant ellipticals, NGC 4874 (right) and NGC 4889 (left). The remaining members are mostly smaller ellipticals, but spiral galaxies are also evident in the 2MASS image. The cluster is seen toward the constellation Coma Berenices, but is actually at a distance of about 100 Mpc (330 million light years, or a redshift of 0.023) from us. At this distance, the cluster is in what is known as the "Hubble flow," or the overall expansion of the Universe. As such, astronomers can measure the Hubble Constant, or the universal expansion rate, based on the distance to this cluster. Large, rich clusters, such as Coma, allow astronomers to measure the "missing mass," i.e., the matter in the cluster that we cannot see, since it gravitationally influences the motions of the member galaxies within the cluster. The near-infrared maps the overall luminous mass content of the member galaxies, since the light at these wavelengths is dominated by the more numerous older stellar populations. Galaxies, as seen by 2MASS, look fairly smooth and homogeneous, as can be seen from the Hubble "tuning fork" diagram of near-infrared galaxy morphology. Image mosaic by S. Van Dyk (IPAC).

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