Detail View: NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Collection: A Quintet of Galaxies

A Quintet of Galaxies
Five closely grouped galaxies are visible in this image made using the Kitt Peak National Observatory [ ] 2.1 meter telescope. The grouping is commonly known as Stephan's Quintet [ ]. Four of the galaxies show essentially the same redshift [ ] suggesting that they are at the same distance from us. The large bluish spiral below and left of center actually has a smaller redshift than the others, indicating it is much closer. It is probably a foreground object which happens to lie along the line of sight to the more distant galaxies [ ]. Of the four distant galaxies, three seem to be colliding, showing serious distortions due to gravitational tidal forces. The fourth is a normal appearing elliptical galaxy (at the lower right edge of the field). Recent results [ ] suggest that collisions play an important role in the life cycles of galaxies.
Credit and Copyright: 
W.C. Keel [ ] (University of Alabama) [ ] and R.E. White, III
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