Perseus Cluster from Chandra

The Perseus Cluster by Chandra. Click for larger. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Bulbul, et al.

The Perseus Cluster by Chandra. Click for larger. Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/E.Bulbul, et al.

You want big? The Perseus Cluster is BIG!

Perseus A (aka NGC 1275) is 72.7 Mpc (237 million light-years) away in the constellation Perseus of all places.

Perseus is located at RA: 03h 25m 20.601s Dec: +49°54’29.118″,actually the location of Mirfak, the alpha star which means it is the brightest star in the constellation.  Easily visible in the northern sky, it is home to the Double Cluster, a pair of open clusters, simply beautiful, It’s one of my favorites and very easy to find (the link has a finders chart).

From the Chandra site:

This image is Chandra’s latest view of the Perseus Cluster, where red, green, and blue show low, medium, and high-energy X-rays respectively. It combines data equivalent to more than 17 days worth of observing time taken over a decade with Chandra. The Perseus Cluster is one of the most massive objects in the Universe, and contains thousands of galaxies immersed in an enormous cloud of superheated gas.

In Chandra’s X-ray image, enormous bright loops, ripples, and jet-like streaks throughout the cluster can be seen. The dark blue filaments in the center are likely due to a galaxy that has been torn apart and is falling into NGC 1275 (a.k.a. Perseus A), the giant galaxy that lies at the center of the cluster. A different view of Perseus combines data from Chandra in the inner regions of the cluster and XMM data in the outer regions.