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The Perseus Group of Galaxies

The center of a large cluster of galaxies can be a dangerous place. Most astronomers think that it is common for galaxies to collide in these kinds of cramped quarters (on galactic scales). This is why most compact galaxy clusters contain elliptical like galaxies. After many collisions the delicate structures of spiral galaxies are morphed into the more stable configuration of an elliptical galaxy. Here we see this dramatic process happening with NGC 1275. Just up and to the left of center, this collision of galaxies ranks as one of the weirdest in the Universe. The very center of NGC 1275 contains two or three curves which used to be spiral arms. The dust in the foreground of NGC 1275 is what remains of the challenging (and losing) galaxy. All of this activity makes the gas release radio wavelengths of light. Thus, NGC 1275 is often called Perseus A as it is the brightest object in this direction in these wavelengths of light. All of the galaxies in the field (perhaps more than 100 if you count the myriad of faint fuzzies) are on the order of 200 million light years away.