Nasa has shared a stunning cosmic shot showcasing two galaxies colliding some 23 million light years away from Earth or roughly 10 times farther away from Andromeda galaxy, our closest galactic neighbour.
The image, captured using Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope, shows galactic pair Arp 142. Of these two, the bigger object, NGC 2336, was initially a regular spiral galaxy, flattened like a pancake with smoothly symmetric spiral arms. However, the gravitational pull of its close neighbour, NGC 2937, distorted and twisted its shape to what we see.
Now, the two galaxies are drawing closer to each other and will eventually merge into one big cosmic object.
"This kind of merger was likely a significant step in the history of most large galaxies we see around us in the nearby universe, including our own Milky Way," Nasa notes.
The whole thing looks as if a penguin is guarding its egg, according to the space agency. It describes the "egg"[NGC 2937] as a featureless object playing host to a group of aged stars.
It is also worth noting that unlike its neighbour, it doesn't carry any red features representing clouds of gas and dust. This means that the object has lost its capacity to form new stars.
The stunning view was captured after combining light in both visible and infrared wavelength using both telescopes. You can even see another galaxy in the shot, painted in blue, which is even further away.
Moving ahead, shots like these would come out even clearer when James Webb Space Telescope, which can see all wavelengths of light, launches to scour the depths of the cosmos.