CREDIT: ESO

 

These are the interacting galaxies NGC 3169 (left) and NGC 3166 (right) – as well as NGC 3165, the small galaxy below NGC 3166. The galaxy trio is located within the constellation Sextans.

The galaxies are interacting, which means they are in the process of colliding; in this case, the very early stages. The two larger galaxies are close enough their combined gravities have started to pull on one another giving them a distorted shape. In some 4-million years, you can expect the Milky Way and Andromeda to have a similar appearance.

In a few hundred million to a few billion years, the galaxy trio will have combined to form a single and much larger galaxy.


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