National Geographic

VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers

Menu

Photo: Hubble Spies Galactic Penguin and Egg

This newly released picture postcard from Hubble Space Telescope, taken in both visible and infrared light, shows two galaxies interacting.  Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
This newly released picture postcard from Hubble Space Telescope, taken in both visible and infrared light, shows two galaxies interacting.
Credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The Hubble Space Telescope has spied a pair of giant galaxies that bear a striking resemblance to a penguin guarding its egg.

This cosmic zoological find—known as Arp 142—is in reality the blue spiral galaxy, NGC 2936, twisted by the gravitational pull of the smaller elliptical galaxy NGC 2937 below it.

Hubble has been able to capture exquisite details within the tortured “penguin” galaxy. Its bright core, representing the “eye” of this celestial bird in the above image, is filled with millions of stars huddled together. The red streak slashing across the penguin’s face just above its eye is the warped remains of what was once a spiral arm.

Meanwhile, the bird’s celestial body is composed of the pinwheeling spiral arms of former galaxies which now only show up as bright, feathery blue and red streaks stretching out for thousands of light years.

The galactic pair is 400 million light-years away from Earth in the southern constellation Hydra. They are in the midst of a slow motion collision—violently exchanging material while disrupting their original structures.

Look closely at the image and many tiny, elongated red and blue smudges in the background—which look like pesky flies—are in reality much more distant galaxies.

Comments

  1. Dr.Saumen Basu
    Sirajgonj,Bangladesh
    June 30, 2013, 12:39 am

    Thanks a lot…….ur work is truly amazing….

  2. Amy Schechter
    Orange county CA
    June 26, 2013, 8:43 pm

    I often wonder, the photos from space, why do they always have to “look like something?” Can’t they be there very own beautiful art form picture, something new, something man kind has always been searching for, something more than our worlds boarders has us see. To me the picture is emmence beauty wonder and delight, and not to mention an awfull long ways away! How we measure distance as time and time as distance exsiting in our universe or perhaps existing in an alternate universe…of course there’s always dream land. Yea for the hubble snap snap.
    Good day
    Amy Rose Schechter

  3. David Charles
    June 25, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Wonder if the folks in those galaxies had to put aside their petty wars and other political squabbles to cope with a few million years of planetary disturbances and necessary migrations to more stable worlds?

  4. francisco avendano
    June 25, 2013, 6:37 pm

    Gracias al la Ciencia y al Hubble podemos ver un acontecimiento de hace 400 millones de anos, por la distance medida en miles de anos luz. Fantastic!!

  5. francisco avendano
    Brooklyn NEW YORK
    June 25, 2013, 6:31 pm

    Sorprendente belleza de mi Universo sin dioses

  6. Jose Armas y Mary Nieves
    June 25, 2013, 8:53 am

    Siempre hay maravillas por ver

  7. Rob G
    Ashland, OR
    June 25, 2013, 12:52 am

    Branches of a treee to the right or a waterfall; star fall; Hummingbird or Dolphin the other way.

  8. Qui
    Ha Noi
    June 24, 2013, 11:59 pm

    So, what we are seeing happened 400 million years ago. Wonder what it looks like now.

  9. Zen Galacticore
    Atlanta, GA.
    June 24, 2013, 5:34 pm

    I think it looks more like a dolphin leaping out of the water. :)

  10. dakshina murthy
    kgf
    June 24, 2013, 2:19 pm

    Its like a dream when u taken photo with harmless its yours favorite submissions Enjoy close-up photos of a variety of galaxies

  11. faisal
    jubail
    June 24, 2013, 1:07 pm

    you are doing wonderful task,really fantastic.I love your interest in nature.

  12. ANDREA
    MEXICO D.F
    June 24, 2013, 10:14 am

    UNA FOTO INCREIBLE, LAS MARAVILLAS DE LA NATURALEZA Y LO MEJOR QUE AHORA LO PODEMOS VER

  13. hermit.FT
    no matter.
    June 24, 2013, 7:44 am

    I as a watcher ,truly wan to say:your job to me is amazing ,while
    in middle hard work,wide media field ,all makes it more like a
    fantasy .well ,I am not good enough in english can describe my
    feeling about , your team ,is doing .by the in very concise words
    all of you have a hard task,meanwhile marveling world,wish I,
    were closer to you as a photographer .
    have a perfect job:lovely team.
    sincerely yours:
    Hermit.fotohie.7@facebook.com

  14. Gracie
    June 24, 2013, 5:21 am

    Penguins: we may not be able to fly but we’re finally in the sky. ^___^

  15. matyeuem
    south africa
    June 24, 2013, 4:51 am

    Ppl see what they want to see..simple. What is a rock? No one can explain What it is.

  16. Waqar Haider
    Karachi
    June 24, 2013, 1:21 am

    So it was not an artist illustration what i saw in “happy feet” .. Amaizing..

  17. colleen N.
    East Coast
    June 23, 2013, 10:32 pm

    This is such a cool website!

  18. Oltion Nikolla
    Albania
    June 23, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Can you explain me what the egg exactly is? for me is like a bright light in the measure of a galaxy. is a little bit confusing to me. thank you

  19. Carolle Bernier
    Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
    June 23, 2013, 4:43 pm

    Looks more like a hummingbird ! :)

  20. LMIV / EGTOJ
    R-M-U
    June 23, 2013, 11:25 am

    Doubt this gets placed here but in any case here it goes:
    “You / I Are Dumber Than A Donkey, Or Perhaps Were. Ha Ha Ha!”

  21. Sanat Kumar Kar
    Howrah, W Bengal, India
    June 22, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Amazing!!!

  22. AvaK
    US
    June 21, 2013, 5:13 pm

    …I’m puzzled. Shouldn’t the days get longer in the northern hemisphere after the June solstice

    “During this season, the Earth’s northern axis is slightly tilted toward the sun so that the northern hemisphere gets more direct sunlight and experiences warmer temperatures. Locations south of the equator are tilted away from the sun, so that the sunlight is dispersed, making for colder temperatures.

    For skywatchers on the first day of the new season and a few days afterward the sun appears to rise at the same place on the horizon – hence the origin of the word solstice, meaning ‘sun stands still’ in Latin.
    From solstice date onward the days start getting shorter and the nights longer in the northern hemisphere. The opposite occurs in the southern hemisphere.”

    http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/17/5-sky-events-this-week-lord-of-the-rings-meets-luna-solstice-supermoon/#comments

    • Andrew Fazekas
      June 22, 2013, 4:42 pm

      No, the days have been getting longer, sun rising earlier and setting later each day as we have been approaching the Summer Solstice. Once we pass the June solstice the Earth’s North Pole begins to slowly turn away from the Sun, while the South Pole begins to turn towards the Sun, as our planet moves along it’s orbit. What this essentially means is that as we move towards the December solstice the days begin to get shorter and nights longer North of the equator and the opposite for those south of it.

  23. Leslie
    California
    June 21, 2013, 4:46 pm

    That’s not a “penguin”!

    It’s a black-crowned night heron.

  24. Lindsay Shoff
    June 21, 2013, 12:08 pm

    This is probably the coolest thing I have ever seen related to astronomy. So amazing!