Monday, May 20, 2013 2:26pm -0400

A Tale of Two Galaxies

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Galaxy 2MASX J05210136-2521450 Galaxy 2MASX J05210136-2521450 Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

This is the newest image gifted to us Earthlings by the Hubble Space Telescope, a tale of two galaxies merged together as one. Catalogued as 2MASX J05210136-2521450 this majestic galactic treasure is certainly deserving of a more exciting name. As it's bright nucleus shines inside a cocoon of brightly lit swirls of hot dust and gas new stars are flashing into life. 


 When we look into the distant cosmos, the great majority of the objects we see are galaxies: immense gatherings of stars, planets, gas, dust, and dark matter, showing up in all kind of shapes. This Hubble picture registers several, but the galaxy catalogued as 2MASX J05210136-2521450 stands out at a glance due to its interesting shape.

This object is an ultraluminous infrared galaxy which emits a tremendous amount of light at infrared wavelengths. Scientists connect this to intense star formation activity, triggered by a collision between two interacting galaxies.

The merging process has left its signs: 2MASX J05210136-2521450 presents a single, bright nucleus and a spectacular outer structure that consists of a one-sided extension of the inner arms, with a tidal tail heading in the opposite direction, formed from material ripped out from the merging galaxies by gravitational forces.

The image is a combination of exposures taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, using near-infrared and visible light.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA.

Read 3287 times Last modified on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 6:12pm -0400
Laurel Nendza

Laurel Nendza is the owner and creator of Stellar Eyes.