The Hubble Space Telescope was able to capture a faint “bridge” of gas connecting two colliding galaxies 465 million light-years from Earth.
The image shows the Arp 107 system, which includes a pair of galaxies in the process of merging. The galactic duo is associated with a weak stream of dust and gas, reports Al-Rai daily.
Hubble, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency, captured this new view of Arp 107 using the Advanced Camera for Surveys.
The larger galaxy, captured on the left of the image, features a large spiral arm with bright gas and dust visible around its core. This cosmic world is known as the Seyfert Galaxy, and is home to an active galactic nucleus.
“Seyfert galaxies are noteworthy because, despite the enormous brightness of the active nucleus, radiation from the entire galaxy can be observed,” ESA officials said in a statement. “This is clearly visible in this image, where the spiral arms of the entire galaxy can be easily seen.”
The active galactic nucleus shows an intense glow associated with the fall of material into the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. In fact, the radiation emitted by an active galactic nucleus can outshine the combined light of each star in its host galaxy.
The galaxy’s bright spiral arm is full of bright budding stars, star births fueled by the abundant source of material being pulled from the smaller companion galaxy, which can be seen to the right of the image.
The smaller galaxy appears to have a bright core, but relatively faint spiral arms as it is absorbed into the larger galaxy.
The stream of material connecting the merging galaxies hangs delicately below the duo in the new Hubble image, released by the European Space Agency on September 18.
The images were taken as part of a program aimed at better studying the objects of a catalog of 338 objects, the Atlas of Strange Galaxy, which aims to provide the public with images of these amazing and unidentified galaxies.