Using VLT Survey Telescope der ESO (VST) astronomers captured this image of the strange galaxy NGC 7727.
“Just as people can accidentally collide at a busy intersection, so can galaxies in the universe!” Said ESO astronomers.
“But in this case the result is more dramatic than a little push.”
“When two galaxies collide, they merge and give birth to a new, larger one. One example is NGC 7727, which is shown in this VST image. “
This galaxy was 115,000 light years wide discovered November 1785 by the German-born British astronomer William Herschel.
Likewise intended as Arp 222 and LEDA 72060, the galaxy is the brightest member of the NGC 7727 group (LGG 480).
Astronomers believe that NGC 7727 is the product the merger of two smaller spiral galaxies that took place around a billion years ago.
The galaxy’s most likely fate is to become an elliptical galaxy in the future with very little interstellar dust and star formation.
“NGC 7727 is believed to be the result of a collision between two galaxies that occurred about a billion years ago,” the researchers said.
“The consequences of this enormous cosmic elevation are still visible in the peculiar, irregular shape of NGC 7727 and the star currents in its outer regions.”
The new image of NGC 7727 was taken in visible light as part of the VST-ATLAS survey.
“The aim of the study is to map a huge region of the southern sky – so large that it can accommodate around 19,000 full moons,” explained the scientists.
“By studying the galaxies in this region, we want to shed new light on the nature of dark energy, the mysterious force that pervades the universe and causes its accelerated expansion.”