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NASA's Hubble Telescope captures galactic Ghost Face image for Halloween

By Jeff Spry
Hubble Hero

Peering out of the great black void like some celestial spectre, this eerie image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope will remind us all that space truly is a scary place where no one can hear you scream!

Released this week in the grand spirit of Halloween, this nightmarish new photo from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope finds two similarly sized galaxies locked in a cosmic clash that strangely resembles a phantom face staring straight into your soul. This seriously spooky observation was captured on June 19, 2019, in visible light via the telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Hubble 1

Galactic collisions are pretty common in the universe, but most are not violent head-on smashups like the event that most likely created this Arp-Madore system existing 704 million light-years from Earth.

Officially catalogued as Arp-Madore 2026-424 (AM 2026-424) in the Arp-Madore “Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations,” it was first noticed by astronomer Halton Arp to include in his 1966 published collection of 338 unusual interacting galaxies. He later collaborated with astronomer Barry Madore in a survey to expand their hunt for unique galactic encounters in the glittering tapestry of the skies.

The intensity of the collision gives this scary-looking system a distinct, temporary ring structure, as the epic crash has yanked and stretched the twin galaxies’ normal discs of gas, dust, and stars outward, forming the circle of dense star formation that distinguishes the “nose” and “face” features of the startling system.

What do you think of this monstrously cool Hubble Telescope image beamed direct from outer space, and does it set the mood for the perfect Halloween?