Daily Telescope: Two galaxies colliding 300 million light-years from Earth

Enlarge / Behold, it is Arp 273.

James Peirce

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It’s November 14, and today’s photograph is drop-dead gorgeous. It features an astronomical feature known as Arp 273—so named because it was part of an atlas of peculiar galaxies compiled by American astronomer Halton Arp six decades ago.

In this case, Arp 273 is not one but two galaxies located about 300 million light-years from Earth. The two spiral galaxies are in the process of interacting with one another, and astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope believe the distinct signs of intense star formation in the nucleus of the smaller galaxy were probably triggered by the encounter with the larger one.

Our photo today was not shot by the Hubble Space Telescope, however, but by James Peirce, an amateur astrophotographer and reader of Ars. (One of the delights of starting this little feature has been realizing how many of our readers are fantastically talented sky photographers).

Peirce shot this with his Celestron EdgeHD 8-inch telescope from his backyard in Utah.

“These galaxies are stupid far away and rather ‘small’ from our perspective, making them a very challenging target to image through the pursuit of amateur tomfoolery, but I have wanted to image these for some time,” he said of this image. “I got my chance on October 8, 2023, thanks to a gorgeous clear night in the desert with a strikingly stable atmosphere, no wind, no Moon until later into the night, and these jewels passing overhead. I’ll take it as the universe tossing me a bone ahead of what may well be another long, cold, stormy winter.”

Source:  James Peirce.

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