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Crash of the Titans
Arp 157, NGC 520
RA 01hr 24m 34.75s Dec 3° 47' 30.00"
100 million light years
5.04 x 5.04 arcminutes
North is 0.9° right of vertical
November 29, 2010
2008 Hubble release: G0816
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
NGC 520 - also known as Arp 157 - looks like a galaxy in the midst of exploding. In reality, it's the exact opposite. Two enormous spiral galaxies are crashing into each other, melding and forming a new conglomerate. This happens slowly, over millions of years - the whole process started some 300 million years ago. The object, about 100 000 light-years across, is now in the middle stage of the merging process, as the two nuclei haven't merged yet, but the two discs have. The merger features a tail of stars and a prominent dust lane. NGC 520 is one of the brightest interacting galaxies in the sky and lies in the direction of Pisces (the Fish), approximately 100 million light-years from Earth.
image was taken by the ESO Faint Object Spectrograph and Camera attached
to the 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla in Chile. It is based on data obtained
through B, V, R and H-alpha filters.