NGC 5427: Hubble observes a Galactic distortion

It’s part of the galaxy pair Arp 271.

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New NASA Hubble Space Telescope image highlights the galaxy NGC 5427. NGC 5426 and NGC 5427, collectively known as Arp 271, are interacting spiral galaxies. They are located approximately 120 million light years away.

NGC 5426 is positioned below the galaxy captured in the image, and it is outside the frame of this particular photograph. Nonetheless, the gravitational interaction between NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 is evident in the visible galactic distortion and the cosmic bridge of stars observed in the lower-right region of the image.

This pair of interacting galaxies was discovered in 1785 by British astronomer William Herschel. Both galaxies are locked in an interaction lasting for millions of years.

 galaxy NGC 5427
The galaxy NGC 5427 shines in the large image from Hubble, with ground-based observations showing its companion galaxy NGC 5426. Together, this pair is known as Arp 271. Ground-based image: DECam Victor M. Blanco/CTIO; Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and R. Foley (University of California – Santa Cruz); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

The outcome of whether NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 will collide and merge is still uncertain. However, their mutual gravitational attraction has already led to the formation of numerous new stars. These young stars are visible in the faint bridge that connects the two galaxies at the bottom of the image. The bridge serves as a pathway for exchanging gas and dust between the two galaxies, facilitating the continuous formation of new stars.

Scientists view Arp 271, with its interacting galaxies, as a potential blueprint for understanding future interactions between our Milky Way Galaxy and its neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. This anticipated interaction between the Milky Way and Andromeda will occur in approximately 4 billion years. Studying systems like Arp 271 helps researchers gain insights into the dynamics and consequences of galactic interactions.

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