Image: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA, J. Dalcanton
The James Webb Space Telescope has been getting all the attention lately, but Hubble, which has been fighting in space since 1990, continues to make impressive astronomical observations.
The latest Hubble image shows Arp-Madore 417-391, a galactic merger located 670 million light-years from Earth. This celestial spectacle can be seen from the southern hemisphere in the constellation Eridanus. As NASA explains, the “two galaxies were distorted by gravity and twisted into a colossal ring, leaving their nuclei nestled next to each other.”
The image was made possible by the ACS (Advanced Camera for Surveys) camera on board Hubble, which is designed for this exact kind of thing: detecting ancient and distant galaxies. Hubble is set to retire by the end of this decade, but NASA and SpaceX are currently devising a plan to extend the life of the old telescope.
Astronomers are currently using Hubble as a survey tool for the James Webb Space Telescope, which has already produced some of the most impressive astronomical images we’ve ever seen. Hubble, when not making pre-scheduled observations, surveys some lesser-known galaxies, allowing astronomers to compile a list of interesting galaxies for Webb to analyze later.
Arp-Madore 417-391 is one of many fascinating objects in the Arp-Madore catalogue, a collection that includes other interacting galaxies.