Posted By Astronomy News Posted On

Hubble Space Telescope Observes Conjunction of Two Spiral Galaxies

While it looks like a spiral galaxy called NGC 105 is plunging edge-on into a collision with a neighboring spiral galaxy, this is just the result of the chance alignment of the two objects in the sky.

NGC 105 is located approximately 215.5 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces.

Otherwise known as IRAS 00226+1236, LEDA 1583 and UGC 241, this spiral galaxy has a diameter of 83,700 light-years.

NGC 105 was discovered by the French astronomer Édouard Stephan on October 15, 1884.

Its elongated neighbor, LEDA 212515, is actually far more distant and remains relatively unknown to astronomers.

“Such misleading conjunctions occur frequently in astronomy,” Hubble astronomers said.

“For example, the stars in constellations are at vastly different distances from Earth, and only appear to form patterns thanks to the chance alignment of their component stars.”

“The new observations are from a vast collection of Hubble measurements examining nearby galaxies which contain two fascinating astronomical phenomena: Cepheid variables and cataclysmic supernova explosions,” they added.

“Whilst these two phenomena may appear to be unrelated, they are both used by astronomers for a very particular purpose: measuring the vast distances to astronomical objects.”

“Both Cepheids and supernovae have very predictable luminosities, meaning that scientists can tell precisely how bright they are.”

“By measuring how bright they appear when observed from Earth, these ‘standard candles’ can provide reliable distance measurements.”

“NGC 105 contains both supernovae and Cepheid variables, giving astronomers a valuable opportunity to calibrate the two distance measurement techniques against one another.”