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"Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control... Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper," Albert Einstein wrote.
Galaxies lead a graceful existence on cosmic timescales. Over millions of years, they can engage in elaborate dances that produce some of nature's most exquisite grand designs. Few are as captivating as the galactic duo known as NGC 5394/5, sometimes nicknamed the Heron Galaxy. This image, obtained by the Gemini Observatory of NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory, captures a snapshot of this compelling interacting pair.
Existence - Universe - Particles - Clusters - Galaxies
The existence of the universe is dependent upon interactions—from the tiniest subatomic particles to the largest clusters of galaxies. At galactic scales, interactions can take millions of years to unfold, a process seen in this image of two galaxies released today by the Gemini Observatory. The new image captures the slow and intimate dance of a pair of galaxies some 160 million light-years distant and reveals the sparkle of subsequent star formation fueled by the pair's interactions.
The two galaxies, astronomers have concluded, have already collided at least once. However, galactic collisions can be a lengthy process of successive gravitational encounters, which, over time, can morph the galaxies into exotic, unrecognizable forms. These galaxies, as in all galactic collisions, are engaged in a ghostly dance as the distances between the stars in each galaxy preclude...
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