NASA asked the public to vote on where they want the Hubble Space Telescope to be pointed in the “Hubble, You Decide” contest. Nearly 140,000 votes were cast online to help decide. And the winner is: a pair of interacting galaxies that look like they are hugging. Called Arp 274 (from the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies) these two galaxies won over five other celestial candidates. The Hubble observations will be taken during the International Year of Astronomy’s “100 Hours of Astronomy,” taking place April 2 – 5. The full-color galaxy image will be released publicly during that time.
Drawn together by their gravity, the two galaxies are starting to interact. The spiral shapes of these galaxies are mostly intact, but evidence can be seen of the gravitational distortions they are creating within each other. When galaxies interact and merge together, the gas clouds inside them often form tremendous numbers of new stars.
According to NASA: “The new picture of Arp 274 promises to reveal intriguing never-before-seen details in the galactic grand slam.”
We’ll be sure to post the image when it is released.