When galaxies get close enough to each other, tidal forces can tug entire star systems out of place, distorting the shapes of the interacting pair in sometimes dramatic fashion. When galaxies with active galactic nuclei interact, the result can be spectacular, as in this Hubble Space Telescope view of Arp 282, made up of Seyfert galaxy NGC 169 (bottom) and IC 1559 (top). Hidden in the cores of both galaxies are supermassive black holes, actively feasting on surrounding stars, gas and dust. Delicate streams of matter can be seen visibly connecting the two galaxies in a dramatic, 3D-like demonstration of titanic tidal interactions.
Each year, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory helps celebrate American Archive Month by releasing a collection of images using X-ray data. Each of these six new images — representing just a small fraction of the treasures that reside in Chandra’s unique archive — also includes data from telescopes covering other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as visible and infrared light.
The subject of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is known as NGC 3597. It is the product of a collision between two good-sized galaxies, and is slowly evolving to become a giant elliptical galaxy. This type of galaxy has grown more and more common as the universe has evolved, with initially small galaxies merging and progressively building up into larger galactic structures over time.