These two ‘colliding’ galaxies make a beautiful double portrait

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Distant orange and whitish galaxies overlap in space.

Just when we begins to forget the old Hubble Space Telectric scope, it’s back with another amazing look at the cosmos. That’s latest goal? Two spiral galaxies, more than a billion light years from Earth, appear to be colliding.

To be clear: They are actually nowhere near each other, but from Hubble’s perspective, one eclipses the other. The galaxies are named SDSS J115331 and LEDA 2073461 and were imaged by Hubble as part of Galaxy Zoo project, a citizen science project dedicated to classifying the countless galaxies in the observable universe.

A zoomable version of the image can be viewed here. Around the galaxies you can see numerous other light sources, mainly other galaxies.

The image may not seem as sharp as the latest Webb Space Tpictures of electric scope. Webb can see fainter light sources at better resolutions than Hubble; a recent deep field that train consists of 690 individual images that capture many more galaxies than in the recent Hubble image.

It is not uncommon for galaxies to overlap from our perspective. An early example from Webb was its 150 million pixel shot of Stephan’s quinteta group of five galaxies that appear to be swirling together, although only a few galaxies in the group are actually interacting with each other.

Video of A Galactic Overlap

But Webb also sees a different light than Hubble. Webb images mostly in the infrared and near-infrared wavelengths – useful for seeing ancient, redshifted light. Hubble images mostly in optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

Hubble is long career as a space observatory has hit a few stumbles lately. Repeatedly for the past few years the telescope has been forced into safe mode while engineers on Earth figured out technical problems with the spacecraft, which was launched in 1991. But the telescope has faltered on.

Webb is widely regarded as Hubble’s successor, but as the veteran telescope shows with this dazzling image, it will not be replaced. On the contrary, it has a unique way of seeing the cosmic menagerie of our universe, and who are we to turn down such a feast for the eye?

More: Restarted Hubble telescope wastes no time, snaps cool new pictures of misfit galaxies

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