Watch two galaxies merging for the first time ever, captured by NASA Hubble

For the first time ever NASA Hubble captures two merging galaxies live

For the first time ever, NASA’s iconic Hubble telescope has captured merging of two galaxies nearly 230 million light-years away from the Earth, in the constellation of Hercules. The stunning image was acquired using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 aboard NASA/ ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Seeing the image for the first time, scientists thought it would be an abnormal shaped galaxy, however, further analysis revealed that they are witnessing live merging of two galaxies —  a process which will give birth to a new child galaxy. It was reported that major galaxy is named NGC 6052.

While explaining, NASA scientists said that earlier they were two separate galaxies, however, due to gravitational pull they attracted each other and eventually collided with each other. The process will force stars to change orbits and select a new path. Some stars might collide in the process emitting massive bright light which humans can track via telescopes.

It is a process of millions of years until both the galaxies become stable and give birth to a new galaxy. Also, the newly formed galaxy will not resemble any of the two parent galaxies, it will have its own striking, size shape features.

“It would be reasonable to think of this as a single abnormal galaxy, and it was originally classified as such. However, it is in fact a ‘new’ galaxy in the process of forming,” the space agency said in a statement. “Eventually, this new galaxy will settle down into a stable shape, which may not resemble either of the two original galaxies.”

Moreover, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990, and remains in operation. With a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, Hubble’s four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared spectra. The telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble. Since, Hubble orbits outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere, it enables the telescope to capture some mind blowing and detailed images and reveals information like no other telescope.

First published on Dec 31, 2015, 12:10 PM

About the author

Kanishk Singh

Kanishk Singh, co-founder, and editor-in-chief at The TeCake, has forayed in the Science and Space for over five years, he enjoys his stint as an editor of several local magazines. He has written several editorials and high-level documentations.


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  • This extraordinary !!! can we have an idea about how many million light years are required for this merger to complete ?

      • It is distance. But it is also about time taken to cover that distance when moving at the speed of light. What majumdar is saying is correct.

        • Huh.. how can light years be a measure of both DISTANCE and TIME? Light year is distance travelled by light in one year.. finished.. it is DISTANCE and nothing else. Yaar physics ki ,maiyaa daiyaa ek mat kar.

        • Time taken to cover “that” distance (light year) is exactly 1 year @ speed of light. So no it is NOT a measure of TIME. So “how long” will it take for the process to complete I think about 23.85 meters.

    • “It is a process of millions of years until both the galaxies become stable and give birth to a new galaxy. ”

      “merging of two galaxies nearly 230 million light-years away from the Earth”

      So what you are seeing is what happened 250 million years ago.. and so by now the process might have completed but we won’t know what it looks like at the moment until 230 million years hence.

    • I hope you understand that light years is a measure of distance not time. It’s like asking, “how many million k.m.’s are required for this merger to be completed?”. 1 light year is approx. 9,461,000,000,000 k.m. the average size of dwarf Galaxy is about 10,000-20,000 light years across, the average size for a large Galaxy is about 100,000-200,000 light years across and the largest galaxy discovered is about 5.5 million light years wide!

    • “Lightyear” is a measure of “distance”, NOT TIME. One ‘lightyear’ = the distance covered by light in one year.

    • It’s saying NASA’s hubble space telescope is capturing for the first time, not that the event is happening for the first time.

  • imagine the carnage …. stars and planets colliding and consuming each other .. and if life was there on any one planet .. many live’s lost … a species lost … yet it is going to be an awesome sight for someone watching it from far away

    • The chances of stellar collision are extremely low as most of a galaxy is empty space. The additional probability of collision of star systems that harbour life is much, much lower. Additionally, these events happen at such a slow pace relatively, that if there were intelligent, sentient species populating one of the stars they would have potentially thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years to prepare to abandon their star system and migrate somewhere else. So while your speculation may make for some fantastic sci-fi the reality would probably be much less doom and destruction.

    • No.. not happening. The distance between the objects is so huge, while they are interacting with each other, there will be almost negligible chance of object collisions (except the center merge). There will be no difference felt. For example, if milkyway and andromeda were to merge, the chance that earth will be obliterated by a collision because of the merger is next to ZERO. It might obliterate for other reasons but chances of the galactic merger itself being the cause is next to zero.

  • Is the bright light we see the result of collision of matter – the enormous energy that is released due to the collision?

  • It will take millions of years for them to form a new galaxy. It will be millions of years for us to see this change.It will still basically be 230 million light years away from us. Simple as that.

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