You don’t need too much of an imagination to see that the once standard spiral galaxy NGC 2936, which can be seen interacting with its smaller elliptical companion NGC 2937, looks just like a penguin guarding its egg.
The image, which is a combination of visible and infrared light, created from data gathered by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 3 (WFC3), is a snapshot of when the collision between galaxies gets messy. Here we witness the aftermath, where the orbits of NGC 2936’s stars have become incredibly scrambled due to the gravitational tidal interactions with NGC 2937, warping its once orderly spiral with interstellar gas strewn out into gigantic tails.
The heart of NGC 2936 is being pumped for gas and dust, with the encounter compressing it in such a way that new stars are born – these can be seen as bluish knots along the galaxy’s distorted arms. The reddish hue of galactic dust, that was once part of the galaxy, has been discarded with such a force that it has been thrown out as dark veins, backlit by bright starlight emanating from what remains of its devastated nucleus and disk.
NGC 2936 hunches protectively over the puffball of stars, NGC 2937. This elliptical galaxy doesn’t really have much dust and gas meaning that you’re more than likely to find old stars here. And given that this egg-shaped galaxy looks mostly red, rather than giving off the brilliant blue evident of recent star formation, this is exactly what can be found.
Resting some 326 million light years in the constellation Hydra, this pairing is known as Arp 142 and belongs to the Arp catalog of peculiar galaxies observed by astronomer Halton C. Arp in the 1960s.
From our perspective, Arp 142 looks like it’s in trouble. In the distance, what appears to be an elongated irregular or edge-on spiral, the lone bluish galaxy – catalogued as UGC 5130 – seems to be heading straight for it. Of course, located at a closer 230 million light years, this stray galaxy isn’t really interested in interacting with the pair. Parent and baby are safe.
But such near misses are very few and far between for the penguins of the Antarctic. And in the current issue of World of Animals magazine, which you can snap up from your local shop or order here, you’ll find out why.
Starting from the inside of an egg, follow the life of the Emperor Penguin – the South Pole’s most beloved resident – as World of Animals delves into this bird’s battle to survive Antarctica’s hostile environment.
Read on as this hatchling grows under the watchful eye of its parents, avoiding the jaws of predators and adapting to the changing Antarctic landscape as the otherwise frozen continent melts in the summer months. Take to the waves in pages of stunning photography and artwork as the Emperor dives through the freezing waters for the first time to catch its very first fish.
Dedicated to our planet’s breathtaking wildlife, World of Animals features 100 pages jam-packed with stunning photography and fascinating facts that will take you on a journey to discover the animals found braving the coldest climes of the Arctic and Antarctic, to those populating the warmest, wettest rainforests and hottest deserts.