Starry Sea Otters

Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa)

The pair of interacting galaxies NGC 6621/2 play like a pair of starry sea otters in this image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 6621, to the left, is the larger of the two; it’s spiral shape highly disturbed by NGC 6622. The encounter has pulled out a long tail of NGC 6622 wrapping around the body of the main galaxy.

Explore the image. The collision triggered massive star formation where the two galaxies meet and throughout the long tail of NGC 6622. Young massive star clusters dominate the scene. These hot and heavy stars are stellar pressure cookers and will likely explode in supernova explosions within a few million years. These explosions will scatter star and planet-making material further into the universe. Look for a few background galaxies sprinkled throughout the image as well.

NGC 6621 and NGC 6622 are located about 300 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Draco the dragon, or serpent.

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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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