July 17, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Follow the leader

Image: ESA/Hubble/NASA/J. Dalcanton/Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA.

This line of galaxies is a cosmic coincidence behind the Arp-Madore 2105-332 interacting system, which is a pair of galaxies 200 million light years away in the suitably small constellation of Microscopium. The gravitational tendrils of each galaxy move toward each other, tearing off stars and galaxies and disintegrating both galaxies. It's all pretty standard as far as interacting galaxies go, but what's notable is that line of numerous galaxies in the background. These galaxies have no relation to Arp-Madore 2105-332; It's just a casual alignment, but it offers a remarkable view. Some of the distant galaxies in the line appear red, with no star-forming gas and only older stars remaining. One is a classic blue spiral, perhaps like our own galaxy. Looking around the image, the objects with diffraction peaks are stars in our Milky Way. Everything else in this image is a galaxy, mostly too faint or too far away to be resolved as anything more than a speck of light.

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