Armenian Astrophysicist

Benjamin (Benik) Jegischewitsch Markarjan was born November 29, 1913, in Shahumyan, Armenia and died September 25, 1985. He was an Armenian astrophysicist and had the Markarian’s Chain (of galaxies) named after him after discovering that this string of galaxies moves with a common motion, in the mid 1970s. He is also the namesake of a catalog of compact, optically bright galaxies (including both starbursts and AGN) known as Markarian galaxies.

The Markarian galaxies are a class of galaxies that have nuclei with excessive amounts of ultraviolet emissions compared with other galaxies.Benjamin Markarian drew attention to these types of galaxies starting in 1963. The nuclei of the galaxies had a blue colour that in a star would be classed from A to F. This blue core did not match the rest of the galaxy. The spectrum in detail tends to show a continuum that Markarian concluded was produced non-thermally. Most of these have emission lines and are interesting because of their energetic activity.

Markarian’s Chain is a stretch of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster. It is called a chain because, when viewed from Earth, the galaxies lie along a smoothly curved line. Member galaxies include M84 (NGC 4374), M86 (NGC 4406), NGC 4477, NGC 4473, NGC 4461, NGC 4458,NGC 4438 and NGC 4435. It’s located at RA 12h 27m and Dec +13° 10′. At least seven galaxies in the chain appear to move coherently, although others appear to be superposed by chance.

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