Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

October 27, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Closeup of Antennae Galaxy Collision
Credit: B. Whitmore (STScI), F. Schweizer (DTM), NASA

Explanation: It's a clash of the titans. Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, however, the stars that compose them usually do not. This is because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. But during the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In the above wreckage, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds, which are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars.

Tomorrow's picture: Rafting for Solar Neutrinos

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.