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Hubble Interacting Galaxy NGC 5256
NGC 5256, UGC 8632, Mrk 0266, I Zw 067, KPG 388
RA 13h 38m 17.68s Dec 48° 16' 34.6"
350 million light-years (100 million parsecs)
1.2 × 1.1 arcmin
November 16, 2001
F435W (B) and F814W (I)
NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (U of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)
April 24, 2008
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
NGC 5256, also known as Markarian 266, is a striking example of two disk galaxies that are about to merge. Spectacular streamers of gas surround the two nuclei and eye-catching blue spiral trails indicate recent star formation. The shape of the object is highly disturbed and observations in various wavelength regimes - infrared, millimeter-wave and radio - provide additional evidence for a starburst in this system. NGC 5256 is located in the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, some 350 million light-years from Earth. It was discovered by William Herschel on May 12, 1787. Each galaxy also contains an active galactic nucleus, evidence that the chaos is allowing gas to fall into the regions around central black holes as well as feeding starbursts. Recent observations from the Chandra X-ray Observatory show that both nuclei, as well as a region of hot gas in between them, have been heated by the shock waves driven as gas clouds at high velocities collide.
image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken
by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on the occasion of its 18th
anniversary on 24th April 2008.