Hubble Spots a Cataclysmic Cosmic Collision

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Galaxy Pair IC 1623

Hubble Space Telescope image of the interacting galaxy pair IC 1623, which lies around 275 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (The Whale). Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, R. Chandar

A cataclysmic cosmic collision takes center stage in this Hubble Picture of the Week. The image features the interacting galaxy pair IC 1623, which lies around 275 million light-years away in the constellation Cetus (The Whale). The two galaxies are in the final stages of merging, and astronomers expect a powerful inflow of gas to ignite a frenzied burst of star formation in the resulting compact starburst galaxy.

This interacting pair of galaxies is a familiar sight; Hubble captured IC 1623 in 2008 using two filters at optical and infrared wavelengths using the Advanced Camera for Surveys. This new image incorporates new data from Wide Field Camera 3, and combines observations taken in eight filters spanning infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths to reveal the finer details of IC 1623. Future observations of the galaxy pair with the NASA/ESA/CASA James Webb Space Telescope will shed more light on the processes powering extreme star formation in environments such as IC 1623.

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