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Astr110 Photography Projects, Fall 2006

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Stephan's Quintet, Lisa Van Lopik

Stephan's Quintet

Stephan’s Quintet, in the constellation Pegasus, is a small galaxy cluster containing five galaxies.  A galaxy is a massive system of stars and interstellar matter that can contain millions or even trillions of stars.  Most galaxies are a part of a galaxy cluster in which each galaxy’s gravitation can have effects on the others, sometimes strongly affecting the others’ appearances.  Two of the galaxies in Stephan’s Quintet are actually colliding as a result of their gravitational pulls on each other.  Other data collected by astronomers suggests that all the galaxies are interacting with each other and therefore are close enough to interact with each other.  The galaxy cluster is placed at about 280 million light years away from Earth.  However the redshifts of all the galaxies are not consistent.  One galaxy in particular has an extremely different redshift, thus implying that it is not at the same location as the others.  Astronomers use this cluster as verification that redshift is not an accurate measure of distance.

In this deep space image of Stephan’s Quintet we can see the spiral arms of three of the galaxies, as well as being able to easily pick out the two colliding galaxies. We can actually see in the image long extended arms that are a result of the gravitational forces of the galaxies working on each other. We can also see a sixth galaxy appearing off to the left which appears to have a haze of light around it. Stephan's Quintet has a linear size of 228,000 light years The angular size of the image is about 5'x10'.


"Stephan's Quintet: Intruder Galaxy Shocks Tightly-Knit Group." Chandra X-Ray Observatory. 30 Aug. 2006. NASA. 16 Nov. 2006 <http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2003/stephan>.

Sharp, Nigel. "Stephan's Quintet (NGC7317, NGC7318A, NGC7318B, NGC7319, NGC7320)." National Optical Astronomy Observatory. NOAO. 16 Nov. 2006 <http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0414.html>.

Frommert, Hartmut, and Christine Kronberg. "Galaxies." SEDS. 11 July 2006. SEDS. 16 Nov. 2006 <http://www.seds.org/messier/galaxy.html>.


Right Ascension (J2000) 22:35:52
Declination (J2000) +33:56:42
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 4x300 seconds in C
Date observed

October 18, 2006, 10:40pm