NASA and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of two luminescent galaxies. This image from the Space Telescope shows NGC 2022, a planetary nebula in the Orion constellation. They are individually known as the Northern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369N) and the Southern Galaxy UGC 2369 (UGC 2369S). The telescope captured mutual gravitational attraction between both the galaxies.
“The galaxies are interacting, meaning that their mutual gravitational attraction is pulling them closer and closer together and distorting their shapes in the process,” NASA said in a statement.
NASA said, “Interaction with others is a common event in the history of most galaxies. For larger galaxies like the Milky Way, the majority of these interactions involve significantly smaller so-called dwarf galaxies. But every few billion years, a more momentous event can occur. For our home galaxy, the next big event will take place in about four billion years, when it will collide with its bigger neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy. Over time, the two galaxies will likely merge into one — already nicknamed Milkomeda.”
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), all that currently connects the two galaxies is a tenuous bridge of gas, dust and stars. "It's actually two galaxies interacting, being pulled closer together by their gravitational attraction, in a similar process that will see our galaxy, the Milky Way, collide with the Andromeda galaxy,” the space agency tweeted.
“A tenuous bridge of gas, dust and stars can be seen connecting the two galaxies, created when they pulled out into space across the diminishing divide between them,” the ESA noted. According to the space agency, such interactions are a common occurrence throughout the history of the cosmos.