Across the heart of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster lies
a string of galaxies known as
Prominent in Markarian's Chain are these two interacting
galaxies, NGC 4438 (left) and NGC 4435 - also known as The Eyes.
About 50 million light-years away, the two
to be about 100,000 light-years apart in
sharp close-up, but have likely approached
to within an estimated 16,000 light-years of each other
in their cosmic past.
Gravitational tides from
close encounter have ripped away at
their stars, gas, and dust.
The more massive NGC 4438 managed to hold on
to much of the material torn out in the
while material from the smaller NGC 4435 was more
The remarkably deep image of this crowded region
of the universe also
includes many more distant background galaxies.