Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)
Moving along the alphabet, we find a lowercase letter “G” within the swirls of the interacting spiral galaxies of Arp 194. Previously, we explored this odd galaxy and noticed a pair of owl eyes staring out of this image from NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope. Nearly everywhere we look in the universe we see galaxies. And even though galaxies are far apart, gravity pulls them together. Eventually they collide or interact.
Two spiral galaxies at the top of the image are merging into a single large galaxy. The gravity interactions have warped and mangled the spiral arms of the galaxies. A third galaxy can be seen to the right.
Follow the blue stream of stars down and we’ll find another spiral galaxy. Streams of gas and dust stretch more than 100,000 light years between the upper galaxies and the large spiral galaxy at the bottom. Super star clusters glow blue in the bridge of light. Dozens of young star clusters are grouped in the blue clumps. Hot and massive stars give the bridge its blue color. Gas and dust have been compressed and shaped like taffy by the galactic collisions. This compression gives rise to conditions that cause a burst of star formation. We can see that the bottom galaxy has blue clumps of new stars as well. Overall the cosmic bridge contains millions of stars.
Arp 194 is located about 600 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation Cepheus, the King.