Stargazers can find constellations in all kinds of shapes in the sky. However, it takes a special eye–or rather, an advanced telescope—to find shapes in distant galaxies. NASA recently shared a photo originally taken in 2018 by the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes which captures interacting galaxies Arp 142. Rather than being amorphous, these faraway worlds look amazingly like a penguin and an egg.
The carousel of photos—which included the original photo and then an imagine if it that has been helpfully drawn over to identify the different shapes—was shared alongside a statement. “These penguin and egg-shaped galaxies were captured by our Spitzer and @NASAHubble space telescopes. At 23 million light-years away, this remote pairing lives about 10 times farther from us than the Andromeda galaxy,” writes NASA. The “penguin” is known as NGC 2936, a spiral galaxy that has been altered by the gravitational pull of its neighboring “egg,” which is known as NGC 2937.
Even to a casual astronomy observer, the differences between NGC 2936 and NGC 2937 are noticeably different. The “penguin” appears to contain a myriad of elements like new stars, dust, and strands of gas, coloring it in pink, blue, and orange. On the other hand, the “egg” is a seemingly featureless blue oval, which NASA says is “due to its smooth distribution of old stars.” While they are separated for now, these galaxies are slowly being pulled together. NASA says: “Over time, gravity will bring these two galaxies closer together until they merge into one. This type of merging likely occurred in the history of most large galaxies we see today, including the Milky Way.”
NASA shared images of penguin and egg-shaped galaxies that are 23 million light-years away from Earth. The organization even drew an outline to clearly see familiar figures.