Hubble Space Telescope, which belongs to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), has captured two galaxies of equal size in a collision that appears to resemble a ghostly face. It is to be noted that the observation was made on June 19, 2019 in visible light by the telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
In a tweet, Hubble said, “The Red Spider Nebula might look like a cosmic arachnid, but it's actually the cast-off outer layers of a dying Sun-like star. The hot star's powerful stellar winds create waves in the expelled gas.”
In a statement, Hubble’s official site said, “Although galaxy collisions are common — especially in the early universe — most are not head-on impacts like the collision that likely created this Arp-Madore system 704 million light-years from Earth. This violent encounter gives the system an arresting ring structure, but only for a short amount of time. The crash has pulled and stretched the galaxies’ discs of gas, dust, and stars outward, forming the ring of intense star formation that shapes the nose and face features of the system.”
“The side-by-side juxtaposition of the two central bulges of stars from the galaxies that we see here is also unusual. Since the bulges that form the eyes appear to be the same size, we can be sure that the two galaxies involved in the crash were of equal size. This is different from the more common collisions in which small galaxies are gobbled up by their larger neighbours,” it added.
This galaxy system is catalogued as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424) in the Arp-Madore “Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations”. It is worth mentioning here that astronomer Halton Arp published his compendium of 338 unusual-looking interacting galaxies in 1966. He later partnered with astronomer Barry Madore to extend the search for unique galactic encounters in the southern sky. Several thousand galaxies are listed in this 1987 survey.