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Hubble Inspects a Pair of Space Oddities

Two face-on spiral galaxies at upper-left and lower-right corners. a long, faint, pale-blue streak joins them, crossing the field diagonally. a small, orange, edge-on spiral galaxy at left of the lower galaxy.
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Dark Energy Survey/Department of Energy/Fermilab Cosmic Physics Center/Dark Energy Camera/Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory/NOIRLab/National Science Foundation/AURA Astronomy; J. Dalcanton

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows two of the galaxies in the galactic triplet Arp 248 – also known as Wild's Triplet – which lies around 200 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo. The two large spiral galaxies visible in this image – which flank a smaller, unrelated background spiral galaxy – appear connected by a luminous bridge. This elongated stream of stars and interstellar dust is known as a tidal tail, and it formed by the mutual gravitational attraction of the two foreground galaxies.

This observation comes from a project which delves into two galleries of weird and wonderful galaxies: A Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations, compiled by astronomers Halton Arp and Barry Madore, and the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, compiled by Halton Arp. Each collection contains a menagerie of spectacularly peculiar galaxies, including interacting galaxies such as Arp 248, as well as one- or three-armed spiral galaxies, galaxies with shell-like structures, and a variety of other space oddities.

Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys scoured this assortment of eccentric galaxies in search of promising candidates for future observations with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and Hubble itself. With the wealth of astronomical objects to study in the night sky, projects such as this, which guide future observations, are a valuable investment of observing time.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

Media Contact:

Claire Andreoli
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD