One of the world’s most powerful cameras has just photographed two distant galaxies entwined in what has been described as a ‘galactic ballet’.
Part of the National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the dark energy chamber on the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile focused its lenses on the Horologium constellation about 60 million light-years from Earth. Here it is captured an image of galaxies NGC 1512 and NGC 1510, which are locked in each other’s gravitational pull.
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NGC 1512 is a barred spiral galaxy not unlike our own Milky Way, while NCG 1510 is a much smaller, dwarf galaxy. The two have been circling each other for some 400 million years, their shapes warping with each step.
The Dark Energy Camera that photographed the galaxies is one of the most powerful wide-field imaging instruments on the planet. It has a 13-foot-wide (four-meter-wide) mirror and a 3.3-foot (one-meter-wide) corrective lens, one of five lenses on the device.
The Dark Energy Chamber was originally built to complete the dark Energy Survey, a mission led by the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. More than 400 scientists from seven countries participated in the survey, which took images of some 300 million galaxies between 2013 and 2019, with the aim of studying enigmatic dark energy.
Although that mission has ended, scientists are still using the Dark Energy Camera to image distant galaxies, including NGC 1512 and NGC 1510. When the two-galaxies’ dance is complete, which it won’t be anytime soon, NGC 1512 will consume its entire planet. smaller companion. to create a new merged galaxy.
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