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At the Edge of NGC 891 Credit: Composite Image Data - Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Legacy Archive, Michael Joner, David Laney (West Mountain Observatory, BYU); Processing - Robert Gendler Composition Image, Spirals Galaxies, Image Data, Lights Years, Spaces Pictures, David Laney, Hubble Legacy, Subaru Telescope, Ngc 891
Smaller satellite galaxies caught by a spiral galaxy are distorted into elongated structures consisting of stars, which are known as tidal streams, as shown in this artist's impression. The new survey has, for the first time, shown the presence of such tell-tale traces of spiral galaxies swallowing smaller satellites for galaxies more distant than our own “Local Group” of galaxies. Image: Jon Lomberg in collaboration with David Martinez-Delgado for the Stellar Tidal Stream Survey
A gorgeous spiral galaxy some 100 million light-years distant, NGC 1309 lies on the banks of the constellation of the River (Eridanus). NGC 1309 spans about 30,000 light-years, making it about one third the size of our larger Milky Way galaxy. Courtesy: Hubble Space Telescope
Well over a thousand galaxies are known members of the Virgo Cluster, the closest large cluster of galaxies to our own local group. In fact, the galaxy cluster is difficult to appreciate all at once because it covers such a large area on the sky. Spanning about 5x3 degrees, this careful mosaic of telescopic images clearly records the central region of the Virgo Cluster through faint foreground dust clouds lingering above the plane of our own Milky Way galaxy.
NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, don't collide in the course of the ponderous event, lasting hundreds of millions of years. Instead, their large clouds of molecular gas and dust do, triggering furious episodes of star formation near the center of the cosmic wreckage. Spanning about 500 thousand light-years, this stunning view also reveals new star clusters and matter flung far from the scene of the accident by gravitational tidal forces.
The Hydra Cluster of Galaxies. Two stars within our own Milky Way galaxy anchor the foreground of this cosmic snapshot. Beyond them lie the galaxies of the Hydra Cluster. In fact, while the spiky foreground stars are hundreds of light-years distant, the Hydra Cluster galaxies are over 100 million light-years away. Three large galaxies near the cluster center, two yellow ellipticals and one prominent blue spiral, are the dominant galaxies, each about 150,000 light-years in diameter.
The Draco Group, in Draco. L-R: edge-on spiral NGC 5981, elliptical galaxy NGC 5982, face-on spiral NGC 5985: all w/in this single telescopic field of view spanning a little more than 1/2 the width of the full moon. The group is far too small to be a galaxy cluster: these galaxies all lie about 100 mly from Earth