See the exquisite new 100 Megapixel photo of two galaxies merging 40 million light years from us

A new state-of-the-art camera in Chile has produced a stunning 100-megapixel image of two galaxies interacting dramatically with each other.

Here is the original 100 megapixel ultra hi-res version that you can zoom in on. You can also download it here for personal use.

The galaxies we see now are the result of mergers like this. Precisely how galaxies are formed is a mystery, but we know that these vast seas of stars often interact and mix to form something new and larger. Such mergers also trigger the birth of new stars.

Captured by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the NSF NOIRLab’s 4-meter Víctor M. Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, the image shows two galaxies that exist 40 million light-years apart. The barred spiral galaxy NGC 1512 (in the center of this article’s main image, above) and the much smaller NGC 1510 are found in the constellation of Horologium. It can only be seen from the southern hemisphere.

The two galaxies have crashed into each other in the past 400 million years, a process that has created millions of stars.

Take a look at the thin threads of the larger galaxy swarming around the smaller galaxy. You can also see a bridge of stars joining the two galaxies, which is proof we have that they are actually interacting with each other.

All galaxies on the disk, including the Milky Way, are thought to have formed through collisions and mergers. Like NGC 1512, galaxy halos have faint streams and star shells left by the merger of satellite galaxies and star clusters scattered around their periphery.

For example, the Milky Way is 13.5 billion years old and is thought to have merged with the Gaia-Enceladus-Sausage galaxy (no kidding!) About nine billion years ago. This is thought to be only its largest collision event, although it is possible that there was another ancient collision with the Kraken galaxy.

The Gaia mission, a satellite launched in 2013 to map and characterize more than a billion stars in the Milky Way, has already revealed that our galaxy’s halo is filled with debris from some huge dwarf galaxies.

What will happen after NGC 1512 and NGC 1510? Eventually they will merge into a larger galaxy and eventually form a new galaxy that will merge with the others.

I wish you clear skies and eyes wide open.

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