Hubble Space Telescope Captures Two Galaxies Merging
NASA released an amazing photo of two galaxies, located around 230 million light-years away in the constellation of Hercules, merging into one. The image was taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
The space agency says it originally believed the picture was that of one abnormal galaxy.
However, further research determined that it’s actually two galaxies that collided, and are now becoming a single structure.
Eventually, the new galaxy will become stable.
“It would be reasonable to think of this as a single abnormal galaxy, and it was originally classified as such. However, it is in fact a ‘new’ galaxy in the process of forming,” the space agency said in a statement.
“Two separate galaxies have been gradually drawn together, attracted by gravity, and have collided. We now see them merging into a single structure,” it added.
As the merging process continues, individual stars are thrown out of their original orbits and placed onto entirely new paths, some very distant from the region of the collision itself.
Since the stars produce the light we see, the “galaxy” now appears to have a highly chaotic shape.
“Eventually, this new galaxy will settle down into a stable shape, which may not resemble either of the two original galaxies,” the statement read.
Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
One of the largest and most versatile of space telescopes, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency, and is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
It is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble and was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990.
Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images with negligible background light. It has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.