Space & Astronomy
Cosmic 'ghoulish face' photographed by Hubble
By T.K. Randall
October 29, 2019 · 7 comments
These two colliding galaxies are roughly the same size. Image Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble
Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have captured a spooky visage of literally cosmic proportions.
Situated 704 million light years away, this remarkable face-shaped structure is actually two galaxies hurtling into one another - a slow-motion, head-on cosmic collision lasting billions of years.
The 'face' is made up of an outline of young blue stars with the two galaxies themselves being the two 'eyes' peering out across the depths of space.
It's a pretty good example of pareidolia - the tendency for the human brain to see meaningful shapes in otherwise abstract patterns. It's the same phenomenon that enables us to spot faces in clouds.
Known as the Arp-Madore system, these two colliding galaxies are expected to eventually merge after a couple of billion years or so while the outside ring will disappear within 100 million years.
What makes this particular collision so interesting - aside from the fact that it looks like a face - is the fact that the galaxies are of a similar size; most collisions observed by astronomers involve a much larger galaxy swallowing up a smaller one.
In around 4 billion years, our own Milky Way galaxy will collide with its nearest neighbor - Andromeda.
When this happens, like with the Arp-Madore system, both galaxies will merge to become one.
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Hubble, Cosmos, Galaxy
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