The Hubble Space Telescope unveils a image featuring a member of the galaxy group Arp 295. This celestial snapshot reveals one of the galaxies from Arp 295, accompanied by a portion of a delicate 250,000-light-year-long bridge of stars and gas extending between two galaxies. The formation of this cosmic bridge is a consequence of the gravitational interplay between the galaxies as they passed nearby.
Galaxies that experience gravitational disruptions in each other’s shapes due to close passages are termed interacting galaxies. Such interactions unfold over vast timescales, and recurrent close encounters can ultimately lead to the merger of the galaxies involved. Galactic mergers are considered a common cosmic occurrence, with even our own Milky Way anticipated to merge with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy in approximately 4 billion years.
Arp 295, part of a galactic trio composed of Arp 295a, Arp 295b, and Arp 295c, showcases the intricate dance of cosmic forces. Arp 295a, depicted as an edge-on galaxy at the center of the image, is accompanied by Arp 295c, a smaller and bluer face-on spiral to its right. Arp 295b, located off the top left of the image, remains unseen in this snapshot. Together, these galaxies form the largest members of a loose galactic gathering situated about 270 million light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. The Hubble’s keen eye captures not only the beauty of these cosmic interactions but also contributes to our understanding of the dynamic processes shaping the vast celestial landscapes.