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Adam BlockJuly 2, 2014

Pretty Pictures of the Cosmos: Interacting Galaxies

What will happen when we, in our Milky Way Galaxy, make a first pass with our ever-closing neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy? Arp 293 might very well be the result:

Our future? NGC 6286

Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / University of Arizona

Our future? NGC 6286
NGC 6286, captured in June 2014.

The Schulman Telescope reveals, perhaps for the first time as a full color image, the intimate details of this interaction. These two spiral galaxies are becoming extremely distorted with the upper member's central disk being warped dramatically. Don't miss the very strange elliptical-shell galaxy (PGC 59348) near the bottom right of the field (probably also captured for the first time).

The above is a scene that includes other galaxies. Here is the pair:

NGC 6286

Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / University of Arizona

NGC 6286
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What happens when you combine a spiral galaxy with an elliptical galaxy? Although it may sound like a punch-line should follow, NGC 6340 appears to be the result:

Mixing galaxies

Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / University of Arizona

Mixing galaxies
NGC 6340, captured in May/June 2014. View additional information

Over the years this lenticular galaxy has been studied by astronomers due to its distinctly different populations of stars. Most likely this galaxy was formed by the collision of two and has slowly been evolving into form we see today. IC 1254 to the upper left also seems to be in the midst of collision by virtue of the large (faint) plume associated with it. This image may be the deepest high resolution color image of these galaxies to be published to-date.

Read more: pretty pictures, astronomy, stars and galaxies

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Adam Block

Astrophotographer for University of Arizona Steward Observatory
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