The NASA Hubble Space Telescope is ringing in its 32nd birthday with a surreal image of five galaxies, called the Hickson Compact Group 40 (HCG 40). This eclectic group consists of three spiral-shaped galaxies, an elliptical galaxy and a lenticular (lens-like) galaxy. The most surprising thing of all is how these galaxies all managed to fit within a region of space that is less than twice the diameter of our own Milky Way’s stellar disk. Read more for two videos and additional information.
There could be one possible explanation for this phenomenon and it’s due to the amount of dark matter associated with these galaxies. When they get closer to each other, dark matter then forms a big cloud within which the galaxies are orbiting. As they collide with this dark matter, the galaxies feel a resistive force due to its gravitational effects, thus slowing their motion and causes them to lose energy, resulting in a falling together of sorts. As for us, we’d be satisfied with this Looking Glass holographic display for our birthday.
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I remember seeing this on a sky survey and saying, ‘wow look at that!’. All that I was using at the time was a big plastic ruler and a magnifying glass while looking over sky survey prints.” He re-discovered the group by browsing through a collection of peculiar galaxies first published by Halton Arp in 1966,” said Paul Hickson of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.