A tight grouping of four galaxies which lies
about 160 million light years from Earth in the southern constellation Phoenix.
The galaxies of Robert's Quartet are crowded into a space just 150,000 light
years across – only 1.5 times the width of our own galaxy, the Milky
Way. This proximity makes them one of the best known examples of a compact
group of galaxies, whose members gravitationally disturb each other. In
the group's largest galaxy, NGC 92 (to the left in the photo), that interaction
has sparked the creation of about 200 star-forming regions and unravelled
a stream of gas and dust stretching 100,000 light years. Nearly 60 stellar
nurseries have sprung up in the irregular galaxy NGC 87, in the upper right
of the image, while a ring of enhanced star birth circles the spiral galaxy
NGC 89 (lower middle).
|Robert's Quartet. Image: FORS2/VLT/ESO