Stars fleeing a cosmic crash | ESA/Hubble & NASA


Stars fleeing a cosmic crash

Astronomical pictures sometimes deceive us with tricks of perspective. Right in the centre of this image, two spiral galaxies appear to be suffering a spectacular collision, with a host of stars appearing to flee the scene of the crash in a chaotic stampede. However, this is just a trick of perspective. It is true that two spiral galaxies are colliding, but they are millions of light-years away, far beyond the cloud of blue and red stars near the merging spiral. This sprinkling of stars is actually an isolated, irregular dwarf galaxy named ESO 489-056. The dwarf galaxy is actually much more distant than many bright stars in the foreground of the image, which are located much closer to us, in the Milky WayESO 489-056 is located 16 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Canis Major (The Greater Dog), in our local Universe. It is composed of a few billion red and blue stars — a very small number when compared to galaxies like the Milky Way, which is estimated to contain around 200 to 400 billion stars, or the Andromeda Galaxy, which contains a mind-boggling one trillion. A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.


Stars fleeing a cosmic crash
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

A version of this image was entered into the Hubble’s Hidden Treasures image processing competition by contestant Luca Limatola.

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Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA
Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)
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