View Full Version : Discussion: The Virgo Galaxy Cluster is Still ...

2004-Oct-22, 03:38 PM
SUMMARY: At a distance of only 50 million light-years away, the Virgo Cluster is the nearest galaxy cluster to us. It's a giant structure consisting of hundreds of galaxies, both large and small, spiral and elliptical; 16 objects in this cluster are members of the famous Messier list of space objects. Astronomers have located a large number of planetary nebula floating in the "intercluster" space between galaxies, and theorize that they must be a fraction of the free floating stars and other objects which swarm around the cluster. By measuring the path of these objects, astronomers have been able to track how the Virgo Cluster is still in the process of formation.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2004-Oct-22, 03:41 PM
And what happens once it is "formed?"

2004-Oct-22, 04:00 PM
I'll have to go look at some more complete papers on these observations. I suspect that any planetary nebula in intergalactic space is there becuase it got ejected from a galaxy during a gravitational interaction with another galaxy.

Since planetary nebulas are created by middle mass stars, such an interaction could have happened billions of years ago, leaving thin shreads to disperse through the cluster.

None-the-less, the Virgo cluster is still evolving. This was a nice story that wasn't dumbed down for a simple audience. Thanks.