Hubble eyes close encounter of the galactic kind

Hubble image of Arp 142


If the face of Mars indicates alien interest in human beings long before we evolved, Penguins must rule intergalactic space. Or possibly dolphins, I always suspected the dolphins, acting so cute and playful and all! Or maybe both are just a product of chance and the penchant of our little bulging primate brains to arrange random images into familiar patterns. I’m going for the latter:

Hubble Homepage — Just below the centre of this image is the blue, twisted form of galaxy NGC 2936, one of the two interacting galaxies that form Arp 142 in the constellation of Hydra. Nicknamed “the Penguin” or “the Porpoise” by amateur astronomers, NGC 2936 used to be a standard spiral galaxy before being torn apart by the gravity of its cosmic companion.

The remnants of its spiral structure can still be seen — the former galactic bulge now forms the “eye” of the penguin, around which it is still possible to see where the galaxy’s pinwheeling arms once were. These disrupted arms now shape the cosmic bird’s “body” as bright streaks of blue and red across the image. These streaks arch down towards NGC 2936’s nearby companion, the elliptical galaxy NGC 2937, visible here as a bright white oval. The pair show an uncanny resemblance to a penguin safeguarding its egg.


  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @NateHevens :

    I don’t know about cephalopod nebula but what about :

    the squid nebula? (aka OU4: 098.5 +07.9.)

    Or the jellyfish nebula :

    which okay, isn’t a cephalopod but another lesser invertebrate marine lifeform.

    Oh & bit of google-fu found this :

    at last! Not a real nebula I’m afraid but I guess the good news is one could still be found and popularly nicknamed that.

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