Four galaxies are involved in this pile-up 280 million light years from Earth. The bright spiral galaxy at the center of the image is punching through the cluster at almost two million miles per hour.
That speeding galaxy may be what is causing the curved swath of X-rays, shown in blue near the center of the image, which were captured by NASA’s orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. The three other yellowish galaxies in the collision are optically visible and were imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.
The fifth, bluish galaxy on the lower left of the group is actually in the foreground of the image, around 40 million light years away from Earth, and not involved in the collision. All together, the galaxies are known as Stephan’s Quintet, named after astronomer Édouard Stephan who discovered them in 1877.
3 years ago