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The Hubble Space Telescope shows the leisurely dance of a group of four galaxies. These galaxies are so close together that they already show signs of distortion, in addition to being stripped of stars due to the powerful gravitational forces. Finally, a single galaxy will emerge from its union.
The size of the galactic group, only 100,000 light-years, does not reach the volume of a galaxy like the Milky Way. The size of each of its members is about 35,000 light years. Three of the galaxies show signs of a close interaction with each other, or perhaps with an intrusive galaxy that does not appear in the photo. The spiral of the upper part, practically singing in the image, remains relatively unperturbed despite belonging to the group. Most of its stars are housed inside the galactic borders.
Unlike most of the galactic interactions observed by Hubble, this group shows no evidence of the characteristic blue regions of young star clusters that generally arise during these interactions. After billions of years, the dance will lead to the fusion of the four participants to give birth to a single galaxy. There is strong evidence that many, if not most elliptical galaxies, arise as a result of galactic fusions.
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