Cosmic Illusion

Hubble's cosmic illusion.  Click for larger.  Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

Hubble’s cosmic illusion. Click for larger. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

It’s not the collision it looks like. The cloud of stars is an irregular galaxy PGC 16389 From what I can tell it is located at RA: 04 h56m 58.7s and Dec: -42d 48m 14s, the magnitude is 14.4 and it’s about 1.3 arc minutes across. The galaxy has a radial velocity of 657 km/sec (derived from a redshift 0.002192z), an accurate (as accurate as cosmic get in the first place) doesn’t seem to be available.

This Hubbble picture is a classic, the number of galaxies in the background is amazing.

Here is the caption for image and you should visit the site though to see larger versions even desktop size.

At first glance, this Hubble picture appears to capture two space giants entangled in a fierce celestial battle, with two galaxies entwined and merging to form one. But this shows just how easy it is to misinterpret the jumble of sparkling stars and get the wrong impression — as it’s all down to a trick of perspective.

By chance, these galaxies appear to be aligned from our point of view. In the foreground, the irregular dwarf galaxy PGC 16389 — seen here as a cloud of stars — covers its neighboring galaxy APMBGC 252+125-117, which appears edge-on as a streak. This wide-field image also captures many other more distant galaxies, including a quite prominent face-on spiral towards the right of the picture.