Photo credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and M. Durbin (University of Washington)
Even though Halloween may be over for 2019, there are still several gems hidden in NASA’s Hubble archives, including this ghostly face that was formed by two galaxies. If you look closely, a pair of glowing eyes glares menacingly can be observed, but what you’re actually looking at is a massive head-on collision between two galaxies. Read more for a video and additional information.
Each one of the eyes you see is the bright core of a galaxy, one of which smashed into another. The outline of the face is a ring of young blue stars, while other clumps of new stars form a nose and mouth. The entire system is officially known as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424), from the Arp-Madore “Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations.”
Although galaxy collisions are common — especially back in the young universe — most of them are not head-on smashups, like the collision that likely created this Arp-Madore system. The violent encounter gives the system an arresting ‘ring’ structure for only a short amount of time, about 100 million years. The crash pulled and stretched the galaxies’ disks of gas, dust and stars outward. This action formed the ring of intense star formation that shapes the nose and face,” said NASA.