Image Credit: NASA/ESA, J. English (U. Manitoba), S. Hunsberger, S. Zonak, J. Charlton, S. Gallagher (PSU), and L. Frattare (STScI)

One thing the universe is not lacking is galaxies. We've found billions of them, yet we know there are many more we are not capable of seeing just yet (for a variety of reasons), yet it's pretty typical for galaxies to have millions of light years separating them (our galaxy is more than 2 million light-years from its closest major spiral neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy). But there are exceptions to this: our galaxy itself has several smaller satellite galaxies — like the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy — in orbit around it.

This is one of them. Instead of having two semi large galaxies gravitationally interacting before a complete merger, this group of galaxies, known as Seyfert's Sextet, contains a whopping six galaxies (one of them is not a galaxy, but a tidal tail of material, while the other is not participating in the galactic game of twister). All of which are comparatively small in size (about 35,000 light-years in diameter). They all lurk at a distance of about 190 million light-years from our galaxy.

Overall, the galaxies take up less volume than our galaxy, which spans about 100,000 light-years across, does. All will continue to be shaped through tidal interactions, perhaps eventually merging to create a super galaxy, equipped with a star-making factory.



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