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Clash of the Titan Galaxies

NGC 520 — also known as Arp 157 -- is actually a mashup of two gigantic galaxies. Credit: ESO

Is this galaxy exploding? Although that’s what it might look like, this is actually two gigantic galaxies crashing into each other. NGC 520 — also known as Arp 157 — is a mashup of two huge galaxies, now combining into one. We can’t really watch the process, as it happens extremely slowly — over millions of years, and the whole process started about 300 million years ago. Apr 157 is about 100,000 light-years across and is now in the middle stage of the merging process, as the two nuclei haven’t come together yet, but the two discs have. The merger features a tail of stars and a prominent dust lane. NGC 520 is one of the brightest interacting galaxies in the sky and lies in the direction of Pisces (the Fish), approximately 100 million light-years from Earth.

This image was taken by the ESO Faint Object Spectrograph and Camera attached to the 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile.

You’d need about a 4-inch telescope to see this 12th magnitude object yourself. Here’s the location: RA: 1h 24m 35.1s, Declination: +03° 47? 33?. Or put in those coordinates in Google Sky to see it there.

Source: ESO

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aqua November 29, 2010, 9:24 AM

    An interesting tangle of stars! Close by is NGC 474 which is also amazing! THAT is a very interesting neighborhood!

  • Aqua November 29, 2010, 9:26 AM

    NGC 474 is just a little West and South of NGC 520: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap071008.html

  • chrislandau November 30, 2010, 10:32 AM

    Is this evidence for the universe NOT expanding? Why are so many galaxies colliding still after 13 billion years, if the universe or space was expanding. Something is not well understoood?
    Chris Landau

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