Astro Imaging & Dark Sky Preserve
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Stephans Quintet and Surounding Area with NGC 7320
Four of the five galaxies in Stephan's Quintet form a physical association, Hickson Compact Group 92, and will likely merge with each other. Radio observations in the early 1970s revealed a mysterious filament of emission which lies in inter-galactic space between the galaxies in the group. This same region is also detected in the faint glow of ionized atomic hydrogen seen in the visible part of the spectrum as a green arc.
Two space telescopes have recently provided new insight into the nature of the filament, which is now believed to be a giant intergalactic shock-wave (similar to a sonic boom but traveling in intergalactic gas rather than air) caused by one galaxy (NGC 7318B) falling into the center of the group at several millions of kilometers per hour.