Monday, October 31, 2022

Space Oddities: The Galactic Triplet Arp 248 | Hubble

Space Oddities: The Galactic Triplet Arp 248 | Hubble

This image from the NASA/European Space Agency 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—seem to be connected by a luminous bridge. This elongated stream of stars and interstellar dust is known as a tidal tail, and it was formed by the mutual gravitational attraction of the two foreground galaxies.

Image description: Two spiral galaxies are viewed almost face-on; they are a mix of pale blue and yellow in color, crossed by strands of dark red dust. They lie in the upper-left and lower-right corners. A long, faint streak of pale blue joins them, extending from an arm of one galaxy and crossing the field diagonally. A small spiral galaxy, orange in color, is visible edge-on, left of the lower galaxy.

This observation comes from a project which delves into two rogues’ 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 used its Advanced Camera for Surveys to scour this menagerie of eccentric galaxies in search of promising candidates for future observations with the NASA/European Space Agency/Canadian Space Agency James Webb Space Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and Hubble itself. With such a 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. As well as the scientific merits of observing these weird and wonderful galaxies, they were also—very unusually—selected as Hubble targets because of their visual appeal to the general public!

Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)/Hubble & NASA, Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, J. Dalcanton

Release Date: October 31, 2022

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