April 19, 2024

Not-So-Close Encounters of the Galactic Kind

Hubble Space Telescope image featuring galaxies NGC 4496A and NGC 4496B. Credit: ESA/Hubble & & NASA, T. Boeker, B. Holwerda, Dark Energy Survey, DOE, FNAL/DECam, CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/ AURA, SDSS, Acknowledgement: R. Colombari
The twin galaxies NGC 4496A and NGC 4496B control the frame in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Both galaxies depend on the constellation Virgo, but in spite of appearing side-by-side in this image they are at vastly different distances from both Earth and one another. NGC 4496A is 47 million light-years from Earth while NGC 4496B is 212 million light-years away. The massive distances in between the 2 galaxies mean that the two can not interact, and they just appear to overlap owing to an opportunity alignment.
Stellar dust includes to the beauty of astronomical images– it can be seen in this image as the dark tendrils threading through both NGC 4496A and NGC 4496B– but it likewise complicates astronomers observations. By thoroughly measuring how starlight from background galaxies is impacted by dust in stepping in galaxies, astronomers can map out where the dust is in the foreground galaxys spiral arms.

By ESA/Hubble
February 27, 2022