Arp 140 Captured in Detailed Image by Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has captured a remarkable image of the interacting pair of galaxies known as Arp 140. Situated approximately 70 million light-years away in the constellation of Cetus, this pair of galaxies is a part of the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. This atlas, compiled in 1966 by American astronomer Halton Arp, contains details of 338 distinctive galaxies.

Arp 140 consists of two galaxies – NGC 274 (also referred to as LEDA 2980) and NGC 275 (also known as LEDA 2984). NGC 274 is a lenticular galaxy, while NGC 275 is classified as a barred spiral galaxy. The structural differences between these two types of galaxies are significant.

Barred spiral galaxies, like NGC 275, have a bar of stars that cuts through their central bulge. This bar can be seen in the Hubble image as a bright white vertical haze. The arms of the galaxy typically start at the end of this bar. On the contrary, lenticular galaxies like NGC 274 are considered an intermediate category between elliptical and spiral galaxies. Their name comes from their disk-like appearance when viewed from the edge. These galaxies have prominent central bulges and flattened disk-like spirals but lack spiral arms. They contain little gas and dust and are primarily composed of old stars.

Earlier observations of Arp 140 identified a tidal tail extending several light-years from NGC 275 beyond the interacting pair. Interestingly, contrary to common assumptions about interacting galaxies, NGC 275 does not exhibit enhanced star formation. This observation could potentially provide new insights into the processes involved in galaxy interaction and evolution.

The Hubble Space Telescope continues to provide valuable data and stunning images, enriching our understanding of the universe. The study of galaxies like Arp 140 contributes to our knowledge of galaxy structures, interactions, and the processes that shape them.

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