''Toothbrush,'' ''Firefly'' Among Galactic Smashups

''Toothbrush,'' ''Firefly'' Among Galactic Smashups
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Two spiral galaxies in the early stages of a merger seem to sparkle like a fireworks display. The gravitational pull between the pair has created their ribbon-like tails of gas, dust, and stars.

The blue regions of Arp 256 are knots of explosive star formation that contribute to the system's luminosity—about a hundred billion times brighter than our sun.

The fireworks are found in the constellation Cetus, 350 million light-years away.

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—Image by NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University), K. Noll (STScI), and J. Westphal (Caltech)
 
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