Hubble telescope spots two ‘squabbling’ galaxies locked in a cosmic dance that will eventually see the smaller one ‘engulfed by its neighbour or tossed out into intergalactic space’
- The pair are the large spiral galaxy NGC 7753 and its tiny companion NGC 7752
- Appearing almost attached, the two galaxies are collectively known as Arp 86
- They lie some 220 million light-years away from us in the Pegasus constellation
- Hubble has been studying them to learn about how young stars form from dust
The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted two ‘squabbling’ galaxies that are locked in a cosmic dance — one that can only end in one of two dramatic ways.
Either the smaller one will be engulfed by its neighbour or else it will be tossed out into intergalactic space, experts from the European Space Agency (ESA) have said.
The larger barred spiral galaxy is known as NGC 7753 and seemingly attached to one of its spiral arms is its smaller companion, dubbed NGC 7752.
The pair are 220 million light-years away from Earth in the Pegasus constellation.
Two ‘squabbling’ galaxies have been spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope that are locked in a cosmic dance — one which can only end in one of two dramatic ways. Either the smaller one will be engulfed by its neighbour or else it will be tossed out into intergalactic space, experts from the European Space Agency have said. Pictured: NGC 7753 and the smaller NGC 7752
WHAT IS ARP 68?
ARP 68 is the name given to a pair of galaxies in the Pegasus constellation, some 220 million light-years away.
The larger galaxy, NGC 7753, is a barred spiral galaxy. Attached to one of its arms is the barred lenticular satellite galaxy NGC 7752.
Experts expect that NGC 7752 will eventually be subsumed into NGC 7753, or else cast off into deep space.
‘The diminutive companion galaxy almost appears attached to NGC 7753, and it is this peculiarity that has earned the designation “Arp 86”,’ ESA officials said.
This identifier, they explained, signifies that the galaxy pair ‘appears in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies compiled by the astronomer Halton Arp in 1966.’
‘The gravitational squabble between the two galaxies is doomed to end catastrophically for NGC 7752.
‘It will eventually either be flung out into intergalactic space or be entirely engulfed by its far larger neighbour.’
Hubble has been observing Arp 86 as part of a broader effort to learn more about the connections between young stars and the cold clouds of gas in which they form.
This investigation has seen Hubble focussed on star clusters and clouds of dust and gas across a variety of different environments found within nearby galaxies — including both NGC 7752 and NGC 7753.
Hubble (pictured) has been observing Arp 86 as part of a broader effort to learn more about the connections between young stars and the cold clouds of gas in which they form
‘Combined with measurements from ALMA, a gigantic radio telescope perched high in the Chilean Andes, these Hubble observations provide a treasure trove of data for astronomers working to understand how stars are born,’ ESA explained.
Hubble and ALMA’s efforts here are also serving to pave the way for research by Hubble’s spiritual successor — the NASA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope.
This space observatory, due to launch in December this year, will also be studying star formation in the dusty regions of galaxies like NGC 7752 and NGC 7753.
NASAs Hubble Space Telescope is still working and has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990
The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
It is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.
He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which is does so – now coined the Hubble constant.
The Hubble telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.
It orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude.
Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head on a dime roughly 200 miles (320km) away.
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all-time
Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across and in total is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long – the length of a large school bus.
Hubble’s launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.
Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same.