Friday, August 12

Hubble telescope takes photo of galaxy merger in Orion | Digital Trends Spanish

In the depths of space, collisions of huge objects can occur on an almost unimaginable scale. Entire galaxies can collide, with two galaxies merging into a single object and producing a storm of star formation as clouds of dust and debris from each galaxy come together and fuel the birth of new stars.

One such galaxy merger has been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, which took this image of the merging galaxy CGCG 396-2. Located 520 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion, the two galaxies have become so entangled that they are considered one object, of an unusual type called a multi-arm galaxy merger.

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observation has captured the galaxy CGCG 396-2, an unusual multi-arm galaxy merger that lies about 520 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Orion.ESA/Hubble and NASA, W. Keel

This merger was originally discovered by volunteers using the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project. Members of the public were invited to help review the Hubble data and classify different types of galaxies that could be seen in the images, to create a catalog of galaxy types.

“The Galaxy Zoo project originated when an astronomer was given an incredibly mind-boggling task; classifying more than 900,000 galaxies by eye”, write the European Space Agency. “By making a web interface and inviting citizen scientists to contribute to the challenge, the Galaxy Zoo team was able to get the analysis right, and within six months a legion of 100,000 volunteer citizen astronomers had contributed more than 40 million galaxy classifications.”

Since the project began in 2007, it has expanded to include galaxy mergers as well as different types of objects such as supernovae. It has also resulted in contributions to over 100 scientific journal articles and inspired other citizen science programs that also run on the Zooniverse platform.

Once many galaxies had been classified, a public vote was held to decide which of these objects should be observed in greater depth, and CGCG 396-2 was a winner. It was photographed by the Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument on Hubble to create the image seen above.

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