Hubble spies a ghostly galactic collision

Halloween is approaching, which means it's about time for a spooky cosmic astrophoto courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Galaxy merger Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424). Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and M. Durbin (University of Washington)

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of two colliding galaxies, forming a ghostly cosmic visage with two glowing eyes staring back.

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At least that’s according to the Hubble Space Telescope team, who have released this image to coincide with Halloween.

What we are looking at here is a collision between two galaxies: an object named Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424).

The two ‘eyes’ are the bright cores of the merging galaxies, while the blue outline is a ring of newborn stars glowing fiercely hot.

An interesting point is the similarity in size between the two galaxies, as normally these galactic collisions occur when a smaller galaxy is consumed by a much larger one.

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image as part of a programme that uses gaps in its observing time to focus on additional targets.

It is hoped that this programme can be used to observe other merging galaxies, offering clues as to how galaxies in the early Universe grew over time by interacting and colliding with one another.

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Observatory Hubble Space Telescope

Release date 28 October 2019

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Image credit NASA, ESA, and J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and M. Durbin (University of Washington)utc