Image Credit: NASA, ESA, ESO (Acknowledgement: Jane Charlton (Pennsylvania State University, USA)

In this new image from the ESA, we happen upon a strange galaxy quartet located approximately 170 million light-years away from Earth toward the constellation of Cetus.

The galaxies pictured here—NGC 839, NGC 838, NGC 835, and NGC 833, which are 4 out of 7 members of the Hickson Compact Group 16 (HCG 16)—are gravitationally interacting, weaving glowing filaments of stars and gas against a pitch black backdrop (many distant galaxies are also peppered throughout, but from this vantage point, they almost look like individual stars).

Like all galaxies belonging to a Hickson Compact Group, each member of HCG 16 has its own unusual qualities, which ultimately attract astronomers to them like magnets. With these, researchers have discovered numerous "knots' of star formation activity; three are classified as starburst galaxies; two are "LINERs;" and another is a Seyfert galaxy.

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