The Hubble Space Telescope Turns 21

To celebrate, the Hubble team pointed Hubble toward Arp 273 — a “galactic rose” — and took this picture:

Hubble has now turned 21, and unlike human young adults, we don’t have to worry about it staying up all night carousing at orbital drinking establishments. Instead the space telescope celebrates by doing what is has done best the past two decades, taking a marvelous image. This dramatic look at Arp 273 shows the very photogenic group of interacting galaxies that glow bright with intense star formation, perhaps triggered by a little carousing the two galaxies are doing with each other as they approach and interact.

Arp 273 lies in the constellation Andromeda and is roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth. The image shows a tenuous tidal bridge of material between the two galaxies that are actually separated by tens of thousands of light-years from each other. But still, the gravitational pull between the two is causing distortions: visible in the larger of the spiral galaxies, known as UGC 1810, is a distorted disc. The swathe of blue stars across the top is the combined light from clusters of intensely bright and hot young stars.

via Universe Today