Galactic friends


A dazzling pair of neighbouring galaxies.


The galaxies NGC 4302 (left) and NGC 4298 (right), in the Virgo cluster.
NASA / ESA / M. Mutchler

These two galaxies are good mates, and, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, their friendship is well documented.

About 55 million light years from Earth – but only around 7000 light years from each other – NGC 4302 (side-on) and NGC 4298 form part of the Virgo Cluster: a community of nearly 2000 galaxies pulled together by gravitational force.

The profile-side NGC 4302 is slightly smaller than our own Milky Way, while NGC 4298 is around half that size. The two galaxies are notable for their lack of any obvious significant gravitational interaction – meaning they aren’t drawn together by any particular structural traits.

Rather, it seems they just like to hang out together.

This image was released by NASA and ESA to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched on 24 April 1990.

Amy middleton.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
Amy Middleton is a Melbourne-based journalist.
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