New Hubble Image Showcases Two "Overlapping" Spiral Galaxies In Rare Optical Illusion

The galaxies are more than 1 billion light-years from Earth.


The two spiral galaxies are not actually interacting, their alignment is just by chance. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, W. Keel.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has released a brand new image of what seems to be two spiral galaxies overlapping with each other. However, as the team at European Space Agency (ESA) points out, the galaxies are not actually interacting, it is just a case of perfect timing and alignment that gives way to an almost flawless optical illusion.


"Despite appearing to collide in this image, the alignment of the two galaxies is likely just by chance – the two are not actually interacting. While these two galaxies might simply be ships that pass in the night, Hubble has captured a dazzling array of interacting galaxies in the past," the team at ESA wrote in a statement.


Hubble's observation of the two galaxies – named SDSS J115331 and LEDA 2073461 – forms part of the Galaxy Zoo project, a citizen science-driven initiative.


"Originally established in 2007, the Galaxy Zoo project and its successors are massive citizen science projects which crowdsource galaxy classifications from a pool of hundreds of thousands of volunteers. These volunteers classify galaxies imaged by robotic telescopes and are often the first to ever set eyes on an astronomical object," ESA explained. 


The latest image serves as a reminder that although Hubble's successor, the JWST, is dazzling us with wonderful science and images of the Universe, Hubble still delivers and is nowhere near retirement anytime soon.

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