Hubble sees stars fleeing a cosmic crash

August 19, 2013

(Phys.org) —Astronomical pictures sometimes deceive us with tricks of perspective. Right in the center of this image, two spiral galaxies appear to be suffering a spectacular collision, with a host of stars appearing to flee the scene of the crash in a chaotic stampede.

However, this is just a trick of perspective. It is true that two spiral galaxies are colliding, but they are millions of light-years away, far beyond the cloud of blue and red stars that appear to be near the merging spiral. This sprinkling of stars is actually an isolated, irregular dwarf galaxy named ESO 489-056. The is actually much more distant than many in the foreground of the image, which are located much closer to us, in the Milky Way.

ESO 489-056 is located 16 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog), in our local Universe. It is composed of a few billion red and blue stars—a very small number when compared to galaxies like the Milky Way, which is estimated to contain around 200 to 400 billion stars, or the Andromeda Galaxy, which contains a mind-boggling one trillion.

Explore further: Hubble eyes a loose spiral galaxy

Related Stories

Hubble eyes a loose spiral galaxy

November 26, 2012

(Phys.org)—The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the spiral galaxy ESO 499-G37, seen here against a backdrop of distant galaxies, scattered with nearby stars.

Glitter galaxy through Hubble's eye

December 3, 2012

(Phys.org)—The brilliant cascade of stars through the middle of this image is the galaxy ESO 318-13 as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Pinwheeling across the sky

June 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —The face-on Pinwheel spiral galaxy is seen at ultraviolet wavelengths in this image taken by ESA's XMM-Newton space telescope.

NASA's Hubble sees a stranger in the crowd

July 22, 2013

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is the largest of the Zodiac constellations, and the second largest overall after Hydra (The Water Snake). Its most appealing feature, however, is the sheer number of galaxies that ...

Dwarf galaxy caught ramming into a large spiral

August 14, 2013

Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed a massive cloud of multimillion-degree gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud is likely caused by a collision between a ...

Recommended for you

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.