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Photographer:

Hal Heaton

Location of Photo:

Chilescope

Date/Time of photo:

9 nights spanning October 8 to December 8, 2023

Equipment:

ASA Newtonian with a field corrector (aperture 0.5m, f/3.8); FLI ProLine 16803 CCD camera with LRGB, Ha and OIII filters; 300s (LRGB) and 600s (Ha, OIII) exposures stacked for 105, 65, 50, 55, 70 and 40 min, respectively; scale 0.9 arcsec/px

Description:

All the stars visible in the night sky belong to our Milky Way Galaxy, and its only been over the last 100 years that humanity has come to realize that ours is not the only galaxy in the heavens. Images from ever more powerful telescopes indicate that there are trillions of other galaxies. But how did they arise? Are they static or evolving? In fact, galaxies grow over time by gravitationally merging or assimilating smaller galaxies, such as shown in this image of the NGC 1532/1531 system in Eridanus. At a distance of about 55 million light years, a warped bridge of exchanged material can be seen arcing between the two, and bright regions of new star formation and an extended arm appear in the larger foreground system. North is to the left and east is downward.