noaoann08016 — Announcement

Siamese Twin Galaxies in a Gravitational Embrace

3 July 2008

n what appears to be a masterful illusion, astronomers at Gemini Observatory have imaged two nearly identical spiral galaxies in Virgo, 90 million light years distant, in the early stages of a gentle gravitational embrace. The new image was obtained at the Gemini South telescope in Chile using GMOS, the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph.

Like two skaters grabbing hands while passing, NGC 5427 (the nearly open-faced spiral galaxy at lower left) and its southern twin NGC 5426 (the more oblique galaxy at upper right), are in the throes of a slow but disturbing interaction-one that could take a hundred million years to complete.

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Gemini South image of NGC 5426-27 (Arp 271)
Gemini South image of NGC 5426-27 (Arp 271)