Astronomy:List of galaxy groups and clusters

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Abell 2744 galaxy cluster - Hubble Frontier Fields view (7 January 2014)[1]

This article lists some galaxy groups and galaxy clusters.

Defining the limits of galaxy clusters is imprecise as many clusters are still forming. In particular, clusters close to the Milky Way tend to be classified as galaxy clusters even when they are much smaller than more distant clusters.

Clusters exhibiting strong evidence of dark matter

Some clusters exhibiting strong evidence of dark matter.

Galaxy cluster Notes
Bullet Cluster In this collision between two clusters of galaxies, the stars pass between each other unhindered, while the hot, diffuse gas experiences friction and is left behind between the clusters. The gas dominates the visible mass budget of the clusters, being several times more massive than all the stars. Yet the regions with the stars show more gravitational lensing than the gas region, indicating that they are more massive than the gas. Some dark (since we don't see it), collision-less (or it would have been slowed, like the gas) matter is inferred to be present to account for the extra lensing around otherwise low-mass regions.[2]
Abell 520 This is actually a collision between two galaxy clusters. The galaxies and the dark matter seems to have separated out into separate dark and light cores.[3]
Abell 2142 A collision between two massive, X-ray luminous galaxy clusters.
Cl 0024+17
(ClG 0024+16, ZwCl 0024+1652)
This is a recently coalesced merger of galaxy clusters, which has resulted in a ring of dark matter around the galaxies, yet to be redistributed.[4][5]

Named groups and clusters

This is a list of galaxy groups and clusters that are well known by something other than an entry in a catalog or list, or a set of coordinates, or a systematic designation.


Galaxy cluster Origin of name Notes
Bullet Cluster The cluster is named for the merger of two clusters colliding like a bullet. Also has a systematic designation of 1E 0657-56
El Gordo Named for its size, El Gordo ("the fat one") is the biggest cluster found in the distant universe (at its distance and beyond), at the time of discovery in 2011, with a mass of 3 quadrillion suns. The second most massive galaxy cluster next to El Gordo is RCS2 J2327, a galaxy cluster with the mass of 2 quadrillion suns. Also has a systematic designation of ACT-CL J0102-4915.[6][7][8]
Musket Ball Cluster Named in comparison to the Bullet Cluster, as this one is older and slower galaxy cluster merger than the Bullet Cluster. Also has a systematic designation of DLSCL J0916.2+2951.[9]
Pandora's Cluster Named because the cluster resulted from a collision of clusters, which resulted in many different and strange phenomena. Also has a catalogue entry of Abell 2744.[10]


Galaxy group Origin of name Notes
Local Group The galaxy group that includes the Milky Way.
Bullet Group Named in comparison with the Bullet Cluster, being of similar formation, except smaller. Also has a systematic catalogue name SL2S J08544-0121. As of 2014, it was the lowest mass object that showed separation between the concentrations of dark matter and baryonic matter in the object.[11][12]
Burbidge Chain
Copeland Septet Discovered by British astronomer Ralph Copeland in 1874.
Deer Lick Group Coined by Tom Lorenzin (author of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing") to honor Deer Lick Gap in the mountains of North Carolina, from which he had especially fine views of the galaxy group. Also referred to as the NGC 7331 Group, after the brightest member of the group.[13]
Leo Triplet Named for the fact it contains only three galaxies. This small group of galaxies lies in the constellation Leo.
Markarian's Chain This stretch of galaxies forms part of the Virgo Cluster.
Robert's Quartet It was named by Halton Arp and Barry F. Madore, who compiled A Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations in 1987. This compact group of galaxies lies 160 million light-years away in the Phoenix constellation.
Seyfert's Sextet Named after its discoverer, Carl Seyfert. At the time it appeared to contain six external nebulae. It is also called the NGC 6027 Sextet, after its brightest member. There are actually only five galaxies in the sextet, and only four galaxies in the compact group. One of the galaxies is an ungravitationally bound background object. The other "galaxy" is instead an extension of the interacting system — a tidal stream caused by the merger. The group is, therefore, more properly called HCG 79; the name refers to the visual collection and not the group. HCG 79 lies 190 million light-years away in the Serpens Caput constellation.
Stephan's Quintet (Stephan's Quartet) Named after its discoverer, Édouard Stephan. There are actually only four galaxies in the compact group, the other galaxy is a foreground galaxy. The group is therefore more properly called HCG 92, because the name refers to a visual collection and not a group. Thus, the real group is also called Stephan's Quartet.
Wild's Triplet Named after the British-born and Australia-based astronomer Paul Wild (1923–2008), who studied the trio in the early 1950s.[14]
Zwicky's Triplet

The major nearby groups and clusters are generally named after the constellation they lie in. Many groups are named after the leading galaxy in the group. This represents an ad hoc systematic naming system.

Groups and clusters visible to the unaided eye

The Local Group contains the largest number of visible galaxies with the naked eye. However, its galaxies are not visually grouped together in the sky, except for the two Magellanic Clouds. The IC342/Maffei Group, the nearest galaxy group, would be visible by the naked eye if it were not obscured by the stars and dust clouds in the Milky Way's spiral arms.

Galaxy group Visible galaxies Notes
Local Group 5 Apart from the Milky Way, only 4 galaxies are visible to the naked eye.[15]
Centaurus A/M83 Group 2 The Centaurus A galaxy has been spotted with the naked eye by Stephen James O'Meara [16][17] and M83 has also reportedly been seen with the naked eye.[18]
M81 Group 1 Only Bode's Galaxy (M81, NGC 3031) is visible to the naked eye.[15][19]
  • No galaxy cluster is visible to the unaided eye.[20]


First discovered Name Date Notes
Galaxy cluster Virgo Cluster 1784 Discovered by Charles Messier.[21]
Galaxy group
Compact group The four brightest members of Stephan's Quintet 1877 Discovered by Edouard Stephan.
Double galaxy Magellanic Clouds antiquity


Title Name Data Notes time
Most distant galaxy cluster CL J1001+0220 redshift z=2.506 Announced August 2016. [22]
Nearest galaxy cluster Virgo Cluster The Virgo Cluster is at the core of the Virgo Supercluster. The Local Group is a member of the supercluster, but not the cluster.
Most distant galaxy group
Nearest galaxy group Local Group 0 distance This is the galaxy group that our galaxy belongs to.
Nearest neighbouring galaxy group IC 342/Maffei Group
Most distant proto-cluster A2744z7p9OD z=7.88 [23]
Nearest proto-cluster
Most distant massive proto-cluster z66OD z=6.585 At time of discovery in 2019, the object had 12 members, including Himiko. [24][25][26]
Least massive galaxy group
Most massive galaxy cluster RX J1347.5-1145 mass= 2.0 ± 0.4 × 1015 MSun
  • distance: z= 0.451
  • LX-ray = 6.0 ± 0.1 × 1045 erg/s in the [2-10] keV energy band
  • temperature: kT = 10.0 ± 0.3 keV


Closest groups

Galaxy groups closer than the Virgo Cluster
Galaxy group Distance Redshift (z) Recession velocity (km/s) Notes
Local Group - - - Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, belongs to the Local Group.
LGG 104 (IC 342/Maffei Group, IC 342 / Maffei 1 Group, IC 342 Maffei 1-2 Group) 0.000868 260 The IC 342/Maffei Group contains two subgroups, the IC 342 subgroup (IC 342 Group) and the Maffei 1 subgroup (Maffei subgroup, Maffei 1 Group, Maffei Group).
M81 Group (NGC 3031 Group) 3.5 Mpc (11.4 Mly) 0.001115 334 [29]
Centaurus A/M83 Group (Centaurus A Group, M83 Group) 3.66 Mpc (11.9 Mly) 0.000999 299 The Centaurus A/M83 Group contains two subgroups, the Centaurus A subgroup (Centaurus A Group, NGC 5128 Group, LGG 344) and the M83 subgroup (M83 Group, NGC 5236 Group, LGG 355).
Sculptor Group (South Polar Group) 3.9 Mpc (12.7 Mly)
Canes Venatici Group (Canes Venatici I Group, Canes I Group, M94 Group, NGC 4736 Group, LGG 291) Mpc (13.0 Mly) 0.001612 483
NGC 1023 Group (LGG 70) 6.12 Mpc (20.0 Mly) 0.002926 877
M101 Group (NGC 5457 Group, LGG 371) 7.33 Mpc (23.9 Mly) 0.001288 386
NGC 2997 Group (LGG 180) 7.66 Mpc (25.0 Mly) 0.002615 784
Canes Venatici II Group (Canes II Group) Mpc (26.1 Mly)
M51 Group (NGC 5194 Group, LGG 347) 9.5 Mpc (31.0 Mly) 0.001850 555 [29]
Leo Triplet (M66 Group, NGC 3627 Group, LGG 231) 10.75 Mpc (35.1 Mly) 0.002207 662
Leo Group (Leo I Group, M96 Group, NGC 3379 Group, LGG 217) 11.66 Mpc (38.0 Mly) 0.002267 680
Draco Group 12.25 Mpc (40.0 Mly)
LGG 396 (NGC 5866 Group, NGC 5907 Group) 0.003020 905
Ursa Major Group (Ursa Major I Group, M109 Group, NGC 3992 Group, NGC 3726 Group, LGG 258) 16.88 Mpc (55.1 Mly) 0.003388 1016 [29]
  • Mly represents millions of light-years, a measure of distance.
  • Mpc represents millions of parsecs, a measure of distance (1 Mpc = 3.26 Mly).
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
    In this very nearby context, however, the observed redshift and recessional velocity are due to the Doppler shifting of the light.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.

Closest clusters

Closest clusters
Galaxy cluster Distance Redshift (z) Recession velocity (km/s) Notes
Virgo Cluster 18 Mpc (59 Mly) 0.0038 1139 The Virgo Cluster is at the core of the Virgo Supercluster. The Local Group is a member of the supercluster, but not the cluster.[30]
Fornax Cluster (Abell S 373, AM 0336-353, MCL 52) 19 Mpc (62 Mly) 0.0046 1379 [30]
Antlia Cluster (Abell S 636) 40.7 Mpc (133 Mly) 0.0087 2608 Also called the Antlia Group.
Centaurus Cluster (Abell 3526, Cl 1247-4102) 52.4 Mpc 0.0110 3298 [30]
Hydra Cluster (Hydra I Cluster, Abell 1060, Cl 1034-2716) 58.3 Mpc 0.0114 3418 [30]
  • Mly represents millions of light-years, a measure of distance.
  • Mpc represents millions of parsecs, a measure of distance.
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.

Farthest clusters

Farthest clusters
Galaxy cluster Distance Notes
No entries yet
  • Mly represents millions of light-years, a measure of distance.
  • Mpc represents millions of parsecs, a measure of distance.
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.
Most remote cluster titleholder
Galaxy cluster Date Redshift (z) Recession Velocity
CL J1001+0220 2016 −  2.506 [22]
CL J1449+0856
(ClG J1449+0856)
2011–2016 2.07 [31][32][33]
JKCS 041 2009–2011 1.9
XMMXCS 2215-1738 (XMMXCS 2215.9-1738) 2006–2009 1.45 XMM-XCS 2215-1738 was also the most massive early cluster so far discovered.[34][35]
ISCS J143809+341419 2005–2006 1.41 [36][37]
XMMU J2235.3-2557 2005 1.393 [38][39][40][41]
RDCS 0848+4453 ( RDCS0848.6+4453, RX J0848+4453, ClG 0848+4453 ) 1997– 1.276 ClG 0848+4453 forms a double-cluster supercluster with RDCS J0849+4452[42][43][44][45][46]
galaxy cluster around 3C 324 (3C 234 Cluster) 1984– 1.206 At the time, the BCG, 3C324 was the most distant non-quasar galaxy.[47]
Cl 1409+524 1960–1975 0.461 The measurement of 3C295's redshift in 1960 also defined its cluster's position. 3C 295 was also the most distant galaxy of the time.[48][49]
Abell 732 (fainter Hydra Cluster Cl 0855+0321) 1951–1960 0.2 61 000  Attempts at measuring the redshift of the brightest cluster galaxy of this Hydra Cluster had been attempted for years before it had been successfully achieved. The BCG was also the most distant galaxy of the time.[48][50][51][52]
Abell 1930 (Bootes Cluster) 1936–1951 0.13 39 000  The BCG of this cluster was also the most distant galaxy of the time.[51][53]
Gemini Cluster (Abell 568) 1932 − 1936 0.075 23 000  The BCG of this cluster was the most distant galaxy at the time.[53][54]
WH Christie's Leo Cluster 1931–1932 19 700  The BCG of this cluster was the most distant galaxy known at the time.[51][54][55][56][57]
Baede's Ursa Major Cluster 1930–1931 11 700  The BCG of this cluster was the highest redshift galaxy of the time.[57][58]
Coma Cluster 1929–1930 0.026 7 800  This cluster's distance was determined by one of the NGC objects lying in it, NGC4860.[58][59]
Pegasus Group (LGG 473, NGC 7619 Group) 1929 0.012 3 779  The BCG for this group was used to measure its redshift. Shortly after this was publicized, it was accepted that redshifts were an acceptable measure of inferred distance.[60]
Cetus Group (Holmberg 45, LGG 27) 1921–1929 0.006 1 800  NGC 584 (Dreyer 584) was measured for the redshift to this galaxy group.[60][61][62][63]
Virgo Cluster 1784–1921 59 Mly (18 Mpc)
1 200  This was the first noted cluster of "nebulae" that would become galaxies. The first redshifts to galaxies in the cluster were measured in the 1910s. Galaxies were not identified as such until the 1920s. The distance to the Virgo Cluster would have to wait until the 1930s.[21]
  • Mly represents millions of light-years, a measure of distance.
  • Mpc represents millions of parsecs, a measure of distance.
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.
  • In 2003 RDCS 1252-29 (RDCS1252.9–2927) at z=1.237, was found to be the most distant rich cluster, which lasted until 2005.[38][40][42]
  • In 2000, a cluster was announced in the field of quasar QSO 1213-0017 at z=1.31 (the quasar lies at z=2.69) [64]
  • In 1999, cluster RDCS J0849+4452 (RX J0849+4452, RXJ0848.9+4452) was found at z=1.261 [43][46]
  • In 1995 and 2001, the cluster around 3C 294 was announced, at z=1.786 [65]
  • In 1992, observations of the field of cluster Cl 0939+4713 found what appears to be a background cluster near a quasar, also in the background. The quasar was measured at z=2.055 and it was assumed that the cluster would be as well.[66][67][68][69]
  • In 1975, 3C 123 and its galaxy cluster was incorrectly determined to lie at z=0.637 (actually z=0.218) [70][71]
  • In 1958, cluster Cl 0024+1654 and Cl 1447+2619 were estimated to have redshifts of z=0.29 and z=0.35 respectively. However, they were not spectroscopically determined.[48]

Farthest protoclusters

5 Farthest protoclusters
Galaxy protocluster Distance Notes
No entries yet
  • Mly represents millions of light-years, a measure of distance.
  • Mpc represents millions of parsecs, a measure of distance.
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.
Most remote protocluster titleholder
Galaxy protocluster Date Redshift (z) Notes
BoRG-58 2012 ~ 8 [72]
COSMOS-AzTEC3 2011– 5.3 Located in Sextans, the cluster appears to contain 11 young small galaxies.[73][74]
Protocluster around radio-galaxy TN J1338-1942 2002– 4.11 It was described as the most distant cluster.[75][76][77][78]
Protocluster around 3C 368 1982– 1.13 [79]
  • z represents redshift, a measure of recessional velocity and inferred distance due to cosmological expansion.
  • Distances are measured from Earth, with Earth being at zero.
  • In 2002, a very large, very rich protocluster, or the most distant protosupercluster was found in the field of galaxy cluster MS 1512+36, around the gravitationally lensed galaxy MS 1512-cB58, at z=2.724 [78][80]

False clusters

Sometimes clusters are put forward that are not genuine clusters or superclusters. Through the researching of member positions, distances, peculiar velocities, and binding mass, former clusters are sometimes found to be the product of a chance line-of-sight superposition.

Former cluster Notes
Cancer Cluster The Cancer Cluster was found to be a random assortment of galaxy groups, and not a true cluster.[21]
Coma-Virgo Cloud The early identification of the Coma-Virgo Cloud of Nebulae was actually a mistaken identification due to the superposition of the Virgo Supercluster and Coma Supercluster, and not a Coma-Virgo Supercluster

See also

Lists of groups and clusters


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  2. "Galaxy Collision Separates Out the Dark Matter". 2006-08-21. 
  3. "Galaxy Cluster Collision Creates a Dark Matter Core". 2007-08-16. 
  4. "Ring of Dark Matter Discovered Around a Galaxy Cluster". 2007-05-15. 
  5. SIMBAD, "ClG 0024+17"
  6. Schilling, Govert (12 January 2012). "When Galaxies Crash". 
  7. "Humongous 'El Gordo' galaxy cluster packs mass of 2 quadrillion stars". Christian Science Monitor. 2012-01-11. 
  8. NASA, "El Gordo Galaxy Cluster", 10 January 2012 (accessed 7 July 2012)
  9. "Discovery of the Musket Ball Cluster, a system of colliding galaxy clusters". 
  10. ESO, "A Galactic Crash Investigation", 22 June 2011 (accessed 7 July 2012)
  11. XMM-Newton (6 June 2014). "Cosmic collision in the Bullet Group". European Space Agency. 
  12. Gastaldello, F. (2014). "Dark matter–baryons separation at the lowest mass scale: The Bullet Group". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters 442: L76–L80. doi:10.1093/mnrasl/slu058. Bibcode2014MNRAS.442L..76G. 
  13. Saratoga Skies, "NGC 7331 (Deer Lick Group and Stephan's Quintet)", Jim Solomon (accessed 7 May 2009)
  14. "Wild's Triplet". 
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  16. "Aintno Catalog". 
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  18. Inglis, Mike (2007). "Galaxies". Astrophysics is Easy! An Introduction for the Amateur Astronomer. Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series. pp. 157–189. doi:10.1007/978-1-84628-736-7_4. ISBN 978-1-85233-890-9. 
  19. SEDS, Messier 81
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  23. Morishita, Takahiro; Roberts-Borsani, Guido; Treu, Tommaso; Brammer, Gabriel; Mason, Charlotte A.; Trenti, Michele; Vulcani, Benedetta; Wang, Xin et al. (30 January 2023). "Early results from GLASS-JWST. XVIII: A spectroscopically confirmed protocluster 650 million years after the Big Bang". Astrophysical Journal Letters. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/acb99e. 
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  25. Yuichi Harikane; Masami Ouchi; Yoshiaki Ono; Seiji Fujimoto; Darko Donevski; Takatoshi Shibuya; Andreas L. Faisst; Tomotsugu Goto et al. (25 February 2019). "SILVERRUSH. VIII. Spectroscopic Identifications of Early Large Scale Structures with Protoclusters Over 200 Mpc at z~6-7: Strong Associations of Dusty Star-Forming Galaxies". Astrophysical Journal 883 (2): 142. 30 September 2019. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab2cd5. Bibcode2019ApJ...883..142H. 
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