Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-images of the day: Stephan's Quintet, Small Magellanic Cloud

This photo shows NGC 7331, a spiral galaxy much like our own. However, if you look closely you'll see that three other galaxies very nearby. These are collectively known as "Stephan's Quintet" after their discoverer (French astronomer Eduoard Stephan), and each of these galaxies are no farther apart than the diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Click the image to see the story.

Imagine what the night sky would look like from a planet orbiting a star within one of those galaxies. Assuming our alien protagonist had a dark-enough sky that she could see the equivalent of the Milky Way, she would see three great clouds of light similar to our Magellanic Clouds - our own little companion galaxies, much smaller and less interesting than those near NGC 7331. Except that in place of our diffuse areas of light, her sky would be filled with vast pinwheels!

Here's our Small Magellanic Cloud, by the way:

Click the image to see the story.

Tags: astronomy

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