The Virgo Cluster
In this image we are looking at a small portion of the Virgo Cluster, our Local Group. The small inner square is still one million light years across -- ten times the diameter of an average spiral galaxy. From our vantage point 20 million light years from Earth, we see numerous foreground and background galaxies in addition to our closer neighbors.
In particular, notice the slightly oblong galaxy just below the center square. This is the closest large spiral galaxy, Andromeda. The best current estimates indicate that Andromeda is just over 2 million light years from the Milky Way. When we look at Andromeda in the night skies of the northern hemisphere of Earth, we are seeing it as it was (and where it was) 2 million years ago.
Copyright © 2005-07 by Bruce Bryson