Hubble captures two galaxies colliding

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted two galaxies in the process of merging.

Published: October 11, 2019 at 10:08 am
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The Medusa merger. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Adamo

This object is actually two galaxies in the process of merging, about 130 million lightyears away.

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Known as NGC 4194, the collision occurred when an early galaxy merged with a smaller galactic counterpart, ejecting stars and cosmic dust out into space.

These streams have led the galaxy merger to be known informally as the 'Medusa merger', given its apparent similarity to the serpentine locks of the famous mythical gorgon.

The collision is not as destructive as it may seem, however, as the shaking-up of stars and dust has led to the formation of new stars, seen glowing bright blue.

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Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Adamo

Authors

Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.

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