Snapshot: Hubble spies a galactic jack-o’-lantern


The Hubble Space Telescope peered deep into the universe and noticed this ghoulish sight. NGC 2292 and NGC 2293 are two galaxies with growing old crimson stars inside their spiral buildings, shifting nearer and nearer collectively. Eventually, they may merge to change into one large galaxy. These approaching galaxies give off their haunting crimson coloration as a result of their older central stars, which mix to make good pumpkin eyes glowing from some 120 million light-years away. Meanwhile, younger blue stars dot throughout the underside of the cosmic gourd, resembling the acquainted haunting smile of a jack-o’-lantern.

This view of a galactic pumpkin is not simply good for Halloween; the 2 galaxies provide an thrilling look into the science of galaxy mergers. Often, when two spiral galaxies merge, they type a brand new sort of galaxy referred to as an elliptical. This is what astronomers generally observe all through our universe.

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But NGC 2292 and NGC 2293 are particular, as they may doubtless go one to type one large spiral galaxy, which is sort of uncommon.

However, it’ll be many, a few years till these galaxies change into one. This picture captures simply the early phases of the merger. And throughout our brief lifetimes, we’ll by no means witness the ultimate product. Mergers like this unfold over billions of years — which is definitely excellent news for us. Currently, our Milky Way is ready to merge with our nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, which can ceaselessly change all the panorama of our galaxy. Now that’s a spooky thought!

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