Would it be concrete proof of the existence of celestial beings in the immensity of space? To the disappointment of many, no, but a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope drew attention in the scientific community for registering what appears to be a beautiful translucent pair of wings hovering in the cosmos.
The scene captured by the telescope, which is about to complete 32 years of activity in space, actually shows the continuous collision between two distant galaxies, belonging to the VV689 system, aptly dubbed… angel wings.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA), this system is located in the constellation of Leo. The “wings” are the result of “a cataclysmic encounter between two galaxies that have been merging for billions of years,” the agency said in a statement.
Also according to ESA, unlike galaxy alignments, which only appear to overlap as seen from our vantage point on Earth, the two galaxies in VV689 are in the midst of a collision. “The galactic interaction left the VV689 system almost completely symmetrical, giving the impression of a vast array of galactic wings.”
📷 This NASA/ESA @HUBBLE_space Telescope image shows two merging galaxies in the VV689 system (the ‘Angel Wing’). Unlike chance alignments of galaxies which only appear to overlap as seen from Earth, these two galaxies are in the process of a collision 👉https://t.co/yxNOn2vDhq pic.twitter.com/wCWWe1MRuC
— ESA (@esa) April 18, 2022
This curious image is in a cluster of observations from Hubble, which was inspected by the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project. The publicly collaborative astronomy action enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers to classify galaxies and help astronomers navigate a deluge of data from robotic telescopes.
In the process, the volunteers discovered a gallery of weird and wonderful galaxy types, some of which had not been studied before.
Man in the Sun?
Another photo published by the ESA last week also aroused the curiosity of the most curious eyes. A zoom in on Solar Orbiter’s mega photo of the Sun shows shapes that resemble a man on his back, looking to the left. The issue went viral on social media.
Experts explained, however, that the “supernatural portrait” in the yellow and gold strokes of the Sun photo is just the action of gas, plasma, magnetic arcs and geomagnetic storms.
The intriguing phenomenon that makes us see the human figure in this case is called pareidolia by psychology, known for making people recognize images of human or animal faces in objects, shadows, light formations and any other random visual stimulus.