Astronomy picture of the day - the overlapping NGC 3314 galaxies

Posted on Saturday, May 07 2005 @ 23:54 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
The astronomy picture of the day is the NGC 3314 galaxy, captured by Hubble a few years ago:
    NGC 3314 consists of two large spiral galaxies which just happen to almost exactly line-up. The foreground spiral is viewed nearly face-on, its pinwheel shape defined by young bright star clusters. But against the glow of the background galaxy, dark swirling lanes of interstellar dust are also seen to echo the face-on spiral's structure.

    The dust lanes are surprisingly pervasive, and this remarkable pair of overlapping galaxies is one of a small number of systems in which absorption of visible light can be used to directly explore the distribution of dust in distant spirals. NGC 3314 is about 140 million light-years away in the multi-headed constellation Hydra. This color composite was constructed from Hubble Space Telescope images made in 1999 and 2000.

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