Linking spiral arms, two large colliding galaxies are
featured in this remarkable cosmic portrait constructed using
image data from the
Hubble Legacy Archive.
Recorded in astronomer Halton Arp's Atlas of
Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 272, the
pair is otherwise known as
NGC 6050 near center, and IC 1179 at upper right.
A third galaxy, likely also a member of the interacting system,
can be spotted above and left of larger spiral NGC 6050.
They lie some 450 million light-years away in the
Hercules Galaxy Cluster.
At that estimated distance, the picture spans over 150 thousand
does look peculiar,
and their eventual mergers are now understood to be common,
with Arp 272 representing a stage in this inevitable process.
In fact, the nearby large spiral
Andromeda Galaxy is known
to be approaching our own galaxy and Arp 272 may offer a glimpse of
the far future collision between
the Milky Way.
Hubble Legacy Archive,