Galactic wreckage in Stephan's Quintet

Esahubble_heic0910i_1024

esahubble_heic0910i September 9th, 2009

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide colour range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. This portrait of Stephan's Quintet, also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Stephan's Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy that is about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. Three of the galaxies have distorted shapes, elongated spiral arms, and long, gaseous tidal tails containing myriad star clusters, proof of their close encounters. These interactions have sparked a frenzy of star birth in the central pair of galaxies. This drama is being played out against a rich backdrop of faraway galaxies. The image, taken in visible and near-infrared light, showcases WFC3's broad wavelength range. The colours trace the ages of the stellar populations, showing that star birth occurred at different epochs, stretching over hundreds of millions of years. The camera's infrared vision also peers through curtains of dust to see groupings of stars that cannot be seen in visible light. NGC 7319, at top right, is a barred spiral with distinct spiral arms that follow nearly 180 degrees back to the bar. The blue specks in the spiral arm at the top of NGC 7319 and the red dots just above and to the right of the core are clusters of many thousands of stars. Most of the Quintet is too far away even for Hubble to resolve individual stars. Continuing clockwise, the next galaxy appears to have two cores, but it is actually two galaxies, NGC 7318A and NGC 7318B. Encircling the galaxies are young, bright blue star clusters and pinkish clouds of glowing hydrogen where infant stars are being born. These stars are less than 10 million years old and have not yet blown away their natal cloud. Far away from the galaxies, at right, is a patch of intergalactic space where many star clusters are forming. NGC 7317, at bottom left, is a normal-looking elliptical galaxy that is less affected by the interactions. Sharply contrasting with these galaxies is the dwarf galaxy NGC 7320 at upper left. Bursts of star formation are occurring in the galaxy's disc, as seen by the blue and pink dots. In this galaxy, Hubble can resolve individual stars, evidence that NGC 7320 is closer to Earth. NGC 7320 is 40 million light-years from Earth. The other members of the Quintet reside about 300 million light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. These more distant members are markedly redder than the foreground galaxy, suggesting that older stars reside in their cores. The stars' light also may be further reddened by dust stirred up in the encounters. Spied by Edouard M. Stephan in 1877, Stephan's Quintet is the first compact group ever discovered. WFC3 observed the Quintet in July and August 2009. The composite image was made by using filters that isolate light from the blue, green and infrared portions of the spectrum, as well as emission from ionised hydrogen. These Hubble observations are part of the Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Early Release Observations. NASA astronauts installed the WFC3 camera during a servicing mission in May to upgrade and repair the 19-year-old Hubble telescope.

Image Source: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910i/

Curator: ESA/Hubble, Garching bei München, Germany

Image Use Policy: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
Hickson Compact Group 92 Stephan's Quintet
Subject - Local Universe
Galaxy > Grouping > Cluster
Esahubble_heic0910i_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 22h 35m 59.1s
DEC = 33° 57’ 36.4”
Orientation
North is 88.3° CW
Field of View
4.0 x 4.5 arcminutes
Constellation
Pegasus

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (B) 438.0 nm
Arrow_left_green Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (V) 606.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Optical (H-alpha) 657.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Infrared (I) 814.0 nm
Arrow_left_red Hubble Space Telescope (WFC3) Infrared (Near-IR) 1.4 µm
Spectrum_base
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_red
Arrow_top_red
Esahubble_heic0910i_1280
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ID
heic0910i
Subject Category
C.5.5.3  
Subject Name
Hickson Compact Group 92, Stephan's Quintet
Credits
NASA, ESA and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team
Release Date
2009-09-09T17:00:00
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0910i/
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope
Instrument
WFC3, WFC3, WFC3, WFC3, WFC3
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red, Red, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
B, V, H-alpha, I, Near-IR
Central Wavelength
438, 606, 657, 814, 1400
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
J2000
Reference Value
338.996283234, 33.9601140495
Reference Dimension
6064.0, 6760.0
Reference Pixel
3033.0, 3381.0
Scale
-1.10592e-05, 1.1059186e-05
Rotation
-88.27
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
ESA/Hubble
URL
http://www.spacetelescope.org/
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
City
Garching bei München
State/Province
Postal Code
D-85748
Country
Germany
Rights
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher
ESA/Hubble
Publisher ID
esahubble
Resource ID
heic0910i
Metadata Date
2015-10-02T14:25:57.304760
Metadata Version
1.1
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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There is no distance meta data in this image.