NASA: Hubble Space Telescope captures NEVER seen before event; check photo | Tech News

NASA: Hubble Space Telescope captures NEVER seen before event; check photo

The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint venture by NASA and ESA, has captured an incredible image of a crash between as many as three galaxies in the Cancer constellation.

By: AKASH DUTTA
| Updated on: Feb 23 2022, 13:53 IST
Triple Galaxy collision
NASA has shared an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope where three galaxies are crashing into each other in the Cancer constellation. (Hubble Space Telescope/ESA)

Living on this small blue rock that we call Earth can often make us forget about the vastness of the entire universe. But some events really put things into perspective. This is what happened recently when the Hubble Space Telescope captured an image of a triple galaxy collision millions of light years away from us. Hubble Telescope, the NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) joint venture, has been observing this spectacular event for more than three decades now. But this is the first time it has been able to take a stunning picture like this, truly highlighting how mesmerizingly terrifying and destructive the universe can be and puts in perspective how fragile and precious life on Earth really is.

This crash between galaxies that has been captured by Hubble Space Telescope in such a vivid manner is taking place 681 million light years away from Earth. The triple galaxy collision or merger has been going on for more than 30 years in the Cancer constellation. The galaxy cluster seen in the image has been named IC 2431. It was discovered by astronomers as a part of a citizen science project called ‘Galaxy Zoo' which aimed to investigate “weird and wonderful galaxies”. The project invited 100,000 volunteers to classify images of 900,000 unexamined galaxies. According to NASA, the project achieved in 175 days what would have taken astronomers years to accomplish. The initiative has already resulted in stunning and mysterious findings like the one here.

Hubble Observes a Triple Galaxy Collision

In the image, one can see three galaxies crashing into one another with brute force as the collision sparks brilliant light and energy. As strange and spectacular the image may be, galaxy collisions or galaxy mergers are quite common in space. Galaxies, like every other celestial body in space, are in constant motion. Due to the huge size and gravitational pull of these galaxies, they often get drawn towards each other.

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Significantly, NASA has observed many such galaxy collisions and mergers and no matter how terrifying it looks, it is more of an act of creation rather than destruction.

What really happens when galaxies crash into each other

A large majority of a galaxy is just empty space with gaseous particles floating around. During galaxy mergers like in the case of IC 2431, these gasses condense in extreme gravitational force and it results in the birth of a new wave of stars. In the eventual unified galaxy, the center or the heart of the galaxy will have new stars, each capable of building its own solar system and possibly fostering life. The existing stars before the collision mostly survive without any damage due to the large empty spaces.

Why are these observations important

The study of galaxies like these tells us a lot about the past and future of our very own Milky Way. In the 12 billion years of its existence, the Milky Way is assumed to have collided and merged with as many as 12 different galaxies, including the newly found Kraken merger, according to Live Science. In about 4.5 billion years, our home galaxy will merge with the nearby Andromeda galaxy. While it will completely alter the star structures in the night sky, the solar system will face no harm, believes NASA.

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First Published Date: 23 Feb, 13:53 IST
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