Hubble images of intertwined Galaxies, spiraling together, yet they are millions of light years apart

The Spiral galaxies seem to collide, in a stunning view from Hubble's precise instruments
Stephen Vicinanza
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Galaxies overlapping billions of light years from Earth

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The Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s iconic photographer of deep space, captures two distant spiral galaxies overlapping.

The galaxies named SDSS J115331 and LEDA 2073461, are actually over a billion light-years from Earth. The Hubble Space Telescope view suggests that these two celestial bodies are in dipping into each other, perhaps merging, but they are not. The view is an optical illusion and the galaxies are interacting with each other at all. That is what the European Space Agency (ESA), a partner in the observatory, said in a statement.

“Despite appearing to collide in this image, the alignment of the two galaxies is likely just by chance. The two are not actually merging,” ESA officials wrote in the statement. “While these two galaxies might be ships that pass in the night, Hubble has captured a dazzling array of interacting galaxies in the past.”

The chance alignment of the two galaxies does offer an extremely spectacular head-on view of the closer galaxy with spiral arms stretching out and curling on either side of the galaxy.

The recent photo which ESA shared on September 5th, was created using observations from the space agency galaxy zoo project. The Galaxy Zoo project is a citizen science-based initiative that began in 2007 in order to crowdsource the classification of galaxies to hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

“These volunteers classify galaxies imaged by robotic telescopes and are often the first to ever set eyes on an astronomical object.” ESA officials wrote in their statement.

The volunteers of the Galaxy Zoo project have helped discover all sorts of interesting celestial bodies and objects, ranging from unusual three-arm spiral galaxies to colliding ring galaxies. The volunteers decide through a public vote which targets are chosen for further study by Hubble.

Other wondrous sights that Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered include stunning new images of young and old stars, shimmering in the sky, like bright multi-colored gems. This fantastic image is of the globular cluster Liller 1 and could cause anyone to pause and consider the beauty of the universe.

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Cast in a soft orange-red aura the cluster’s center gets some of its attention diverted by the array of intensely bright blue stars on the perimeter that capture all the senses. This image was captured by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and its astounding ability to pierce through wavelengths of light that go unregistered by the human eye. Those wavelengths are what make the gorgeous astronomical imagery from the telescope.

Liller 1 is in the Milky way’s “bulge” which is a crowded, dust-infused area at the center of our home galaxy. Liller 1 is some 30,000 light years from Earth, in the core region. Deep clouds of interstellar dust deftly scatter light that makes Liller 1 very difficult to see, without the help of the precision instruments of the Hubble Space telescope. Dust clouds of this type of particularly good at obscuring blue light.

The WFC3 accommodates both visible and near-infrared wavelengths, and its camera can penetrate the dust clouds surrounding Liller 1 and so it is revealed in all its dazzling glory.

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