A glimpse of the future

This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one. The twisted cosmic knot seen here is NGC 2623 — or Arp 243 — and is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer (The Crab).

NGC 2623 gained its unusual and distinctive shape as the result of a major collision and subsequent merger between two separate galaxies. This violent encounter caused clouds of gas within the two galaxies to become compressed and stirred up, in turn triggering a sharp spike of star formation. This active star formation is marked by speckled patches of bright blue; these can be seen clustered both in the centre and along the trails of dust and gas forming NGC 2623’s sweeping curves (known as tidal tails). These tails extend for roughly 50 000 light-years from end to end. Many young, hot, newborn stars form in bright stellar clusters — at least 170 such clusters are known to exist within NGC 2623.

NGC 2623 is in a late stage of merging. It is thought that the Milky Way will eventually resemble NGC 2623 when it collides with our neighbouring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, in four billion years time.

In contrast to the image of NGC 2623 released in 2009 (heic0912), this new version contains data from recent narrow-band and infrared observations that make more features of the galaxy visible.

 

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

About the Image

Id:potw1742a
Type:Observation
Release date:16 October 2017, 06:00
Size:3978 x 1910 px

About the Object

Name:Arp 243, NGC 2623
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Distance:250 million light years
Constellation:Cancer
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

Large JPEG
2.9 MB
Screensize JPEG
107.3 KB

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Wallpapers

1024x768
262.7 KB
1280x1024
483.8 KB
1600x1200
741.5 KB
1920x1200
863.9 KB
2048x1536
1.3 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):8 38 23.99
Position (Dec):25° 45' 19.27"
Field of view:3.32 x 1.59 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 134.8° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
435 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
V
555 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
I
814 nm Hubble Space Telescope
ACS
Optical
H-alpha
656 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
H-Alpha + NII
665 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Infrared
J
1.1 μm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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