HUBBLE SPIES A GALACTIC TRAIN WRECK
Photo Credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. CLICK photo for larger view and look below for information and links.
Like two massive buzz saws coming together, these two spiral galaxies cataloged as NGC 6050 and IC 1179 are merging together to form a new spiral galaxy or more likely, a large elliptical galaxy. These objects combined are cataloged as ARP 272 (The Halton Arp Catalog of Peculiar Galaxies can be found below).
Though it appears that there’s a third galaxy in the mix here, it is undetermined as to whether it’s a background galaxy or if it’s involved in the collision. They reside a mind boggling 450 million light years away in the constellation Hercules and are members of the Hercules Galaxy Cluster, Abell 2151 of over 300 galaxies which is also a member of the Great Wall of Superclusters which is one of the largest known structures in the universe. At that distance of 450 million light years it’s very likely that this object looks nothing like this today and it’s likely that due to the gravitational forces in the supercluster that this object is no longer there but instead has moved over that great timespan.
“You cannot look out into space without looking back into time” -Carl Sagan
NAME: Arp 272, NGC 6050, IC 1179.
WHAT IS IT?: Pair of colliding galaxies.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Roughly 450 million light years.
HOW BIG IS IT?: Spans about 150,000 light years at its widest.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: Very dim 15.2.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Hercules in the Hercules Galaxy Cluster, Abell 2151.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 16h 05m 23.5s / Dec +17d 45’ 26”.
ESA Spacetelecope page for this photo: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/heic0810ap/
This photo is also in the Hubble collection of 59 images of merging galaxies released on April 24, 2008 for Hubble’s 18th birthday. http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/search/?category=560&adv=&facility=2
SIMBAD data page on Arp 272: http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-id?Ident=Arp+272
Halton Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies: http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/level5/Arp/Arp_contents.html
Hercules Supercluster Abell 2151: http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/superc/her.html