NGC 7318
Stephan's Quintet - Colliding Galaxies
Stephen's Quintet was discovered by Edouard Stephan in 1877 and is the first compact group of galaxies ever discovered.   Also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92, the five member galaxies that form this group of galaxies are in the process of merging.   NGC 7317 (right), 7318a (right most of tangled pair), 7318b (left most of tangled pair), 7319 (top left of center), and 7320c (far left) are all visible in this image and are about 290 million light years away.  The light entering the telescope for this image is therefore 290 million years old.   NGC 7320 also visible is the bluish galaxy below the center of the image and is actually a foreground galaxy about one eighth the distance to the other five.   Over the next few hundred million years, the five galaxies will likely form one single massive galaxy several times the size of our own milky way galaxy.
Optics: RC Optical System 20" F/8.2 (4165.6 mm Focal Length) Date: October 2011
Camera: SBIG ST10XME with Adaptive Optics Location: Columbus, Texas
Exposure: LRGB = 400:90:90:110 minutes Imager: Kent E. Biggs