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Space photos of the week: when billions of worlds collide



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This is what it looks like when two galaxies collide. Those colorful bands of rubble are gases that are thrown into space as a result of this violent cosmic dance. Galaxy NGC 5256 contains both fused galaxies. Each one contains its own galactic nucleus and between them there is a supermassive black hole that quickly absorbs the impact material.

This bright red star is called π1 Gruis and its bluish companion on the left is π2 Gruis. The Digital Survey of the sky of the European Southern Observatory took this picture of the space surrounding these stars. On the right, in bright blue, you can see the spiral galaxy IC 5201.

This picture may seem a bit more familiar: that's Earth! Little Rock, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans, Birmingham and Miami to be exact. This illuminating photo was taken from the International Space Station by the current crew member Mark Vande Hei.

This resplendent purple and blue image of a cluster of galaxies called Perseus could help scientists solve one of the greatest mysteries of science: dark matter. To understand dark matter, scientists are trying to interpret the new X-ray data of the cluster, one of the largest objects in the known universe. The sudden jolts of intensity that you are observing could provide answers.

Hubble does it again! This photo is from the Abell 21

63 galaxy cluster. One of the largest galaxy clusters in the record, which contains about 4,000 galaxies, Abell 2163 is also the hottest ever found. Scientists are studying the material that protrudes from the interior of the cluster to better understand dark matter and phenomena such as gravitational lenses.

A look at our galaxy is always moving. In this dazzling image, the Milky Way arches over the Very Large Telescope. Do you see those two bright spots on the bottom? Those are the Great and Small Magalénic Clouds.

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