Image of the Day: Cosmic Illusion –A Galaxy Mashup



In an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy formerly known as NGC 3314 looks like an interacting pair of galaxies, but is actually an accidental overlapping of two galaxies which just happen to be in the same line of sight from Earth. The two galaxies are actually tens of millions of light-years apart moving in different directions, about 10 times the distance between our own Milky Way galaxy and the Andromeda galaxy.




NGC 3314A appears to have a slightly warped shape due to an encounter with another nearby galaxy, but astronomers believe that encounter to have been with the large spiral galaxy NGC 3312, not visible in the image. The NGC 3314B dust lanes appear lighterbecause they are illuminated by the bright stars in the front galaxy. The dust in the front galaxy, in contrast, appears darker because it is backlighted by stars in NGC 3314B.


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