The spiky stars in the foreground of
sharp cosmic portrait are well within our own
The two eye-catching galaxies lie far
beyond the Milky Way,
at a distance of over 300 million light-years.
Their distorted appearance is due to gravitational tides
as the pair engage
Arp 273 (also as UGC 1810), the galaxies do look
but interacting galaxies are now understood to be
common in the universe.
In fact, the nearby large spiral Andromeda Galaxy is known to be
some 2 million light-years away and approaching the Milky Way.
Arp 273 may offer an analog of their
far future encounter.
Repeated galaxy encounters on a
cosmic timescale can ultimately
result in a merger into a single galaxy of stars.
From our perspective, the bright cores of the Arp 273 galaxies are
separated by only a little over 100,000 light-years.
The release of this
stunning vista celebrates the 21st anniversary of
the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit.
ESA, and the
Hubble Heritage Team