March 8 (UPI) – Millions of galaxies across the universe are colliding right now. Two of them can be seen on a new Hubble image.
Unlike a car crash, asteroid strike or planetary smashup, which all happens quickly, galactic collisions play out over millions of years. The dramatic nature of the drama offers astronomers and their telescopes – on the ground and in space – plenty of time to document the cosmic phenomena.
Many galactic collisions are called a single unit. Astronomers named the duoden in the new Hubble image NGC 6052.
When William Herschel first discovered NGC 6052 in 1784, he and his other astronomers classified the object as a single irregular galaxy. Scientists now know that NGC 6052 is not a strangely shaped galaxy, but two galaxies ̵
1; each of which is driven by the second gravity and the driving force.
“Long ago, gravity pulled the two galaxies together in the chaotic state we are now observing,” according to a press release from the European Space Agency. “Stars from both original galaxies now follow new paths caused by the new gravity effects.”
The two galaxies that make up the odd shaped unit are called NGC 6052A and NGC 6052B. The view of each galaxy is no longer apparent, indicating that the two are at the end of the merger.
The Hubble Space Telescope, managed by NASA and ESA, captured the image of NGC 6052 with its Wide Field Camera 3.