A tale of galactic collisions

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. A version of this image was submitted to the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

About the Image

Id:potw1318a
Type:Observation
Release date:6 May 2013, 10:00
Size:1998 x 1998 px

About the Object

Name:2MASX J05210136-2521450
Type:Early Universe : Galaxy : Activity : Ultraluminous
Distance:z=0.04 (redshift)
Constellation:Lepus
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.0 MB
Screensize JPEG
280.0 KB

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315.5 KB
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578.8 KB
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832.5 KB

Coordinates

Position (RA):5 21 1.28
Position (Dec):-25° 21' 40.56"
Field of view:1.68 x 1.68 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 26.2° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Infrared
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS

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