This Hubble Image of the Week contains a richness of spiral galaxies: the big, distinguished spiral galaxy on the appropriate facet of the picture is NGC 1356; the 2 apparently smaller spiral galaxies flanking it are LEDA 467699 (above it) and LEDA 95415 (very shut at its left) respectively; and at last, IC 1947 sits alongside the left facet of the picture.
This picture is a very attention-grabbing instance of how difficult it may be to inform whether or not two galaxies are literally shut collectively, or simply appear to be from our perspective right here on Earth. A fast look at this picture would seemingly lead you to assume that NGC 1356, LEDA 467699, and LEDA 95415 had been all shut companions, whereas IC 1947 was extra distant. Nonetheless, we have now to keep in mind that two-dimensional pictures akin to this one solely give a sign of angular separation: that’s, how objects are unfold throughout the sphere of the night time sky. What they can’t characterize is the space objects are from Earth.
As an example, whereas NGC 1356 and LEDA 95415 look like so shut that they have to absolutely be interacting, the previous is about 550 million light-years from Earth and the latter is roughly 840 million light-years away, so there may be almost a whopping 300 million light-year separation between them. That additionally signifies that LEDA 95415 is probably going nowhere close to as a lot smaller than NGC 1356 because it seems to be.
Alternatively, whereas NGC 1356 and IC 1947 appear to be separated by a relative gulf on this picture, IC 1947 is barely about 500 million light-years from Earth. The angular distance obvious between them on this picture solely works out to lower than 4 hundred thousand light-years, so they’re truly a lot a lot nearer neighbors in three-dimensional house than NGC 1356 and LEDA 95415!