Perseus Galaxy Cluster (Abell 426)
Distance: 230 Million Light Years

Right Ascension: 03 : 19.8 (hours : minutes)
Declination: +41 : 31 (degrees : minutes)

The Perseus galaxy cluster (Abell 426) is a rich cluster containing over 500 members centered on the large elliptical galaxy NGC 1275. Also known as Perseus A, NGC 1275 is an extremely powerful radio source, second only to Centaurus A in radio power. It is most likely a seyfert type active galaxy. Among galaxy clusters Abell 426 is the brightest x-ray source. The immense gravitational forces occurring at the center of large clusters crushes the existing diffuse gas to extremely high density and temperatures of 10 to 100 million degrees. The hot gases give off x-ray emission which astronomers study to learn about the evolution and dynamics of the cluster. The x-ray emission of Abell 426 shows depressions and voids indicating the cluster is still evolving and undergoing further collapse and mergers of subgroups.

The cluster Abell 426 and several other clusters make up the expansive Perseus-Pisces supercluster of galaxies which forms a long dense wall of galaxies extending across 300 million light years of space and some 40 degrees of winter sky. Abell 426 is the dominant cluster and by far the richest in terms of galactic numbers. George Abell gave it a rating of 2 in "richness" in his catalog of galaxy clusters. An extensive catalogue of galaxy clusters was compiled by the American astronomer George O. Abell (1927-1983). He published his original catalogue in 1958 which was later completed posthumously in 1987. It includes approximately 4000 clusters out to a redshift of Z=0.2.


The Perseus-Pisces supercluster is one of two dominant concentrations of galaxies in the nearby universe (within 300 million light years) which are placed on either side of the local supercluster and along the plane of our galaxy. On one side at a distance of 200 million light years are the Hydra and Centaurus Superclusters. Somewhat further out and obscured by the plane of our galaxy is a very dense concentration of galaxies and dark matter called the great attractor. The great attractor contains the rich and massive cluster A3627. The heavy concentration of matter in the Hydra-Centaurus/Great Attractor supercluster complex appears to be exerting an enormous gravitational pull on our local supercluster. A net streaming motion of galaxies was discovered in the direction of the great attractor, which pulls the local supercluster in its direction at a velocity of 600 kilometers/second. In the opposite direction and also in line with our galactic plane is the almost equally massive Perseus-Pisces supercluster. The outcome of these two competing megastructures is a cosmic tug of war with our local supercluster in the center and the eventual winner still uncertain.