The European Southern Observatory has released a photo of a giant emoji from merging galaxies.
The unusual appearance of two galaxies is the result of their merger. Behind them are two growing supermassive black holes, and the “grin” is formed by the swirling of matter around them.
The structure in the photo is Mrk 739, which is relatively close to Earth. The data obtained will provide a better understanding of what happens during galaxy mergers.
As a result of observations, it turned out that one of the galaxies in the pair is much older than the other. Moreover, the process of their merger is at an early stage.
To study the merger, astronomers used a 3D spectrograph, MUSE, on the ESO telescope. The researchers captured images of the observed object in the form of special data sets simultaneously at thousands of different wavelengths.