Image Credit: Joseph D. Schulman

Galaxy groups are among the most important structures in the universe; they give astronomers the opportunity to see how galaxies evolve, gleaning particular insight into the role mergers play in galaxy evolution.  There are numerous groups of interest, among the most famous Hickson Compact Galaxy Groups (HCGs) are Stephan's Quintet and Seyfert's Sextet: the galaxy displayed above is within earshot of one little known group, dubbed HCG 68.

Called NGC 5371, it can be found around 100 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canes Venatici, From our vantage point, NGC 5371 (sometimes called NGC 5390) is pictured face-on, which allows us to resolve its barred spiral structuring; its white-hot central core; its sweeping spiral arms; and the blue stars pervading . Pinkish patches, which represent HII regions, or places where active star formation is taking place, are also clear in the enlarged version of this image (as are the twisty lanes of interstellar dust that are typically associated with spiral galaxies).

The other galaxies entered into the Atlas of Compact Groups of Galaxies make up the brightest galaxies viewable in the northern hemisphere. Moreover, when NGC 5371 is paired with the Hickson group, they comprise the Big Lick Galaxy Group

The Big Lick Galaxy Group (Credit: Antonio F. Sanchez/Spag-Monfrague Remote Observatory)

Share This Article