Merging Galaxies in the Distant Universe Through a Gravitational Lens

ESA/Hubble press release

H-ATLAS J142935.3-002836
Galaxy H-ATLAS J142935.3-002836 seen in a composite of Hubble and Keck 2 data, credit NASA/ESA/ESO/W. M. Keck Observatory
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and many other telescopes on the ground and in space have been used to obtain the best view yet of a collision that took place between two galaxies when the Universe was only half its current age. The astronomers enlisted the help of a galaxy-sized magnifying glass to reveal otherwise invisible detail.

These new studies of the galaxy have shown that this complex and distant object looks surprisingly like the well-known local galaxy collision, the Antennae Galaxies.

In this picture, which combines views from Hubble and the Keck-II telescope on Hawaii (using adaptive optics), you can see a foreground galaxy that is acting as the gravitational lens. The galaxy resembles how our home galaxy, the Milky Way, would appear if seen edge-on. But around this galaxy there is an almost complete ring — the smeared out image of a star-forming galaxy merger far beyond.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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