April 23 (UPI) — In a newly released Hubble video, a pair of stunning spiral galaxies can be seen merging.
The face-on view makes NGC 2207 and IC 2163 look like a pair of eyes. In a few million years, the galactic duo will look like more like a cyclops than a pair of narrow-set eyes.
Over time, as the galaxies continue to collide, gravity will warp the duo’s spiral structures into entirely new shapes.
The colliding galaxies are found approximately 80 million light-years from Earth. The larger of the two, NGC 2207, is classified as an intermediate spiral galaxy, while the smaller, IC 2163, is considered a barred spiral galaxy.
Scientists combined observations at several different spectral bands, or wavelengths, to create the video. Different wavelengths reveal different structures, colors and characteristics.
The visible light observations are courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, while the infrared images were captured by the Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared reveals the glow of dusty structures inside the colliding galaxies. The X-ray images, photographed by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, showcase the regions of star formation inside the arms of the two spiral galaxies.
“Though individual stars are too far apart to collide, the material between the stars merges to create high-density pockets of gas,” Hubble scientists explained in caption of the posted video. “These regions gravitationally collapse to trigger a firestorm of star-birth.”