Hubble regularly captures stunning images of the universe around us and sometimes NASA highlights photos that are particularly striking. That’s the case with one of the latest images highlighted by the space agency, one that features three galaxies engaging in a galactic ‘tug-of-war’ battle. According to NASA, the galaxies are part of a ‘peculiar’ set.
The system featured in the image, which was highlighted by NASA on July 30, is called Arp 195; it is part of the “Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies,” which is a list of the strange and otherwise unique and “wonderful” galaxies in the universe around us. In this case, the three galaxies are interacting with each other.
This tug-of-war, as NASA calls it, is a gravitational battle slowly merging the triplets. The result is a seemingly glowing dash of paint across the dark background, one that — in this case — was a “bonus snapshot” captured by Hubble between scheduled, more notable and longer observations.
NASA explains that time spent using the Hubble Space Telescope is “extremely valuable,” which is why planned observations are calculated using an algorithm and then scheduled. Every now and again, this system provides some extra time for Hubble to make other observations resulting in bonus images.
We have the image of this galactic ‘battle’ thanks to this bonus time Hubble was able to use for a non-scheduled observation. NASA notes that not only do these bonus snapshots give the public additional images of the universe, but also provide possible future observation points for the James Webb Telescope, which will be launching in the near future.