NASA releases 'scary' images of deep space in time for Halloween

James Marshall
October 29, 2019

Thankfully, it is not Cthulhu's cousin or anything quite so sinister but is instead two galaxies merging in a system called called Arp-Madore 2026-424, 704 million light-years away. This image shows the collision of two galaxies of equal size and was taken on 19 June 2019 in visible light by the telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

What looks like a deformed skull or a ghostly alien face is actually two galaxies in the process of colliding with each other.

"Although galaxy collisions are common-especially back in the young universe-most of them are not head-on smashups, like the collision that likely created this Arp-Madore system", NASA added. The forces involved in the collision have pulled the gas and dust outwards, forming a temporary ring-like structure.

This ring will last for 100 million years and the galaxies will completely merge in about one to two billion years.

In this case, however, astronomers believe this spooky celestial spectre will linger, ever-watchful, in our telescopes for several hundred million years before the ring dissipates leaving only the singular bright mass of the combined galaxies.

"The side-by-side juxtaposition of the two central bulges of stars from the galaxies in Arp-Madore 2026-424 is also unusual".

This galaxy system is cataloged as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424) in the Arp-Madore "Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations".

And because the galactic centers of each one seen in the image appear to be the same size, that means the galaxies were equal in proportion before they collided.

'This is different from the more common collisions in which small galaxies are gobbled up by their larger neighbors.

The Hubble Space Telescope sure knows how to celebrate Halloween. The goal is to compile a robust sample of nearby interacting galaxies, which could offer insights into how galaxies grew over time through galactic mergers. Hubble's observations can also help determine targets for future space telescopes, like the James Webb Space Telescope launching in 2021.

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