Close encounter

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139, found in the constellation Lepus (The Hare). Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) instruments observed the galaxy from a distance of 500 million light-years.

This particular object stands out from the crowd by actually being composed of two separate galaxies rushing past each other at about 2 million kilometres per hour. This speed is most likely too fast for them to merge and form a single galaxy. However, because of their small separation of only about 20 000 light-years, the galaxies will distort one another through the force of gravity while passing each other, changing their structures on a grand scale.

Such galactic interactions are a common sight for Hubble, and have long been a field of study for astronomers. The intriguing behaviours of interacting galaxies take many forms; galactic cannibalism, galaxy harassment and even galaxy collisions. The Milky Way itself will eventually fall victim to the latter, merging with the Andromeda Galaxy in about 4.5 billion years. The fate of our galaxy shouldn’t be alarming though: whilst galaxies are populated by billions of stars, the distances between individual stars are so large that hardly any stellar collisions will occur.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

About the Image

Id:potw1719a
Type:Observation
Release date:8 May 2017, 06:00
Size:3920 x 3211 px

About the Object

Name:IRAS 06076-2139
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Distance:500 million light years
Constellation:Lepus
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.7 MB
Screensize JPEG
108.4 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
105.9 KB
1280x1024
174.3 KB
1600x1200
271.5 KB
1920x1200
357.6 KB
2048x1536
487.1 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):6 9 45.72
Position (Dec):-21° 40' 25.37"
Field of view:3.27 x 2.67 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 50.0° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
H
1.545 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

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