NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) used the iconic Hubble Space Telescope to take a stunning image of a massive galaxy (NGC 169) pulling cosmic material away from a smaller galaxy (IC 1559).
ESA wrote: “As common as these interactions are thought to be in the Universe, it is rare to capture an image of two galaxies interacting in such a visibly dynamic way,”
The larger, more massive galaxy pulls on the smaller galaxy. “Gas, dust, and even entire solar systems will be drawn away from one galaxy and towards the other,” the space agency said.
We can see this happening from almost two hundred million light-years away thanks to Hubble. “This process can actually be seen in action in this image — delicate streams of matter have formed, visibly linking the two galaxies,” noted ESA.
Our own Milky Way galaxy will experience severe galactic contact in the future as well. The Milky Way will ultimately collide with the bigger Andromeda galaxy in 4 billion years. NASA predicts a massive merger that will result in a single, gigantic galaxy.