Photo Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Evans
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured two luminescent galaxies at play. Catalogued as the UGC 2369, the galactic duo has been caught in an interaction resulting from the mutual gravitational attraction between them. Galaxies interacting is not uncommon, but two similarly sized ones merging is a momentous event - the image shows the galaxies distorting as they pulled closer and closer together. A thin bridge of gas, dust, and stars connecting the duo can be observed. The bridge was developed when the galaxies pulled their material out into space across the diminishing divide between them.
In the image, taken by the European Space Agency (ESA) using the Hubble Space Telescope, we see the Northern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369N) interacting with the Southern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369S). "The galaxies are interacting, meaning that their mutual gravitational attraction is pulling them closer and closer together and distorting their shapes in the process," NASA said in a statement.
As we mentioned, it isn't the first time when two galaxies are interacting with each. NASA underlined that interaction between galaxies is a common event in the history of galaxies. "For larger galaxies like the Milky Way, the majority of these interactions involve significantly smaller so-called dwarf galaxies," the space agency noted. Having said that, even such a momentous and notable event take s place every few billion years.
Astronomers predict that for our galaxy, the next big event will occur in about four billion years with a collision of the Andromeda galaxy. "Over time, the two galaxies will likely merge into one -- already nicknamed Milkomeda," NASA said. Meanwhile, you would get a chance to see gazillions of duos like the UGC 2369 that was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.