A Galaxy Interaction That Deceives The Eyes

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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope photograph is one of my favourite images of interacting galaxies, but it’s actually a bit of a cheat. The galaxies are not interacting at all.

The galaxies are simply in a chance alignment from our vantage point, and that’s how Hubble was able to produce such a breathtaking image.

The pair of overlapping galaxies called NGC 3314, with NGC 3314a located 117 million light-years from us, and NGC 3314b 140 million light-years.

Their relative position and dynamics tell us that the two galaxies are moving through the cosmos quite undisturbed, but we can see that NGC 3314b is warped, suggesting that at least one of these galaxies have had a close encounter in the not-so-distant past.

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