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Hubble catches a galaxy duo by the 'hare'

Date:
May 12, 2017
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
This image shows the unusual galaxy IRAS 06076-2139, found in the constellation Lepus (The Hare).
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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.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

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 kilometers (1,243,000 miles) 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 behaviors 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: while galaxies are populated by billions of stars, the distances between individual stars are so large that hardly any stellar collisions will occur.


Story Source:

Materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble catches a galaxy duo by the 'hare'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170512134419.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2017, May 12). Hubble catches a galaxy duo by the 'hare'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170512134419.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble catches a galaxy duo by the 'hare'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170512134419.htm (accessed May 28, 2017).

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