NASA has taken to its social media channels to share an epic image snapped by the iconic Hubble Space Telescope.
The space agency briefly explains in the above post on X that this image contains a menacing pair of "eyes" that create what seems to be a "cosmic skull". However, on its website, which has a more in-depth explanation of what we are looking at, the space agency explains that the "eyes" are actually cores of two galaxies that are on a collision course.
The entire system is officially cataloged as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424), and according to NASA, while galaxy collisions are quite common, especially in the early universe, what isn't common head-on collisions such as this highlighted Arp-Madore system. The system is located approximately 704 million light-years from Earth.
"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."
"Ring galaxies are rare; only a few hundred of them reside in our larger cosmic neighborhood. The galaxies have to collide at just the right orientation to create the ring. The galaxies will merge completely in about 1 to 2 billion years, hiding their messy past," writes NASA
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