NASA and the European Space Agency’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured stunning images of two merging galaxies about 350 million light-years away from Earth. The galactic merger is taking place within the constellation Cetus (the Sea Monster). The colliding galaxies are being collectively referred as Arp 256 by scientists.
The two galaxies show distorted shapes and a large number of blue knots of star formation that look like exploding fireworks. The star formation was boosted by the close interaction between the two galaxies.
The European Space Agency (ESA) authorities described the picture as “The galaxies are burning with astonishing locales of star arrangement: The splendid blue firecrackers are stellar nurseries, producing hot newborn child stars.”
As per ESA authorities, the galactic merger is currently in its early stage. The two galaxies will have their shapes distorted for millions of years until they finally combine to create a new, much bigger galaxy in the process. The blue material in the picture captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is interstellar gas and dust which serve as a stellar nursery to lead to the formation of new and young stars. You can check out the picture below.
Such galactic mergers are pretty much common throughout the universe. Our Milky Way too is on a collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy. The two galaxies will likely merge in about 4 billion years. Notably, the gravitational interactions between galaxies have major effects on the galaxies involved. The merger effects depend upon a number of parameters including collision angles, speeds, and relative size/composition.
The spectacular picture was shot by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). According to ESA, the Arp 256 picture is another rendition of a photograph released in 2008 that was part a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken for Hubble’s 18th anniversary.
— HUBBLE (@HUBBLE_space) March 8, 2018