Hubble features ghostly galaxy for Halloween

AM 2026-424
This Hubble image of the merged galaxy known as AM 2026-424 was taken on June 19 in visible light by the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The system resides 704 million light-years from Earth. (NASA / ESA / UW / Dalcanton, Williams and Durbin)

Now here’s something really scary for Halloween: Imagine two galaxies slamming into each other and creating a monstrous wraith with ghostly glowing eyes.

It’s not that far of a stretch. The Hubble Space Telescope captured just such an image, for a team of astronomers based at the University of Washington.

The visible-light picture, taken in June by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, shows a galactic smash-up that took place about 700 million light-years away in the constellation Microscopium. The cosmic collision is known as Arp-Madore 2026-424 or AM 2026-424, because it’s noted that way in the Arp-Madore Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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