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Galaxy cluster in Pegasus

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Most galaxies are found in groups, and a good example is this collection of distant galaxies known as Stephan’s Quintet.  The gravitation pull among the galaxies is distorting their shapes, as can be seen by some of the faint extensions and unusual twists in these galaxies.  There is still debate about whether the large bright galaxy at the bottom in this picture, NGC 7320,  is really near the others, or whether it is much closer but just happens to be in the same line of sight.  The distance to the others has been estimated at 260 million light years, making them over 100 times further away than the Andromeda Galaxy (Messier 31), the closest spiral galaxy.

All of these galaxies are between magnitude 12.6 and 13.6, and a fairly large telescope and dark skies are needed to see them well. 

Image details:  Exposure times of 90 minutes luminance and 30 minutes each of red, green, and blue, taken with an SBIG ST-8300M imager and a 14" Meade LX850 telescope at f/6.

August 2014