Pan of NGC 3256

This video features the peculiar galaxy NGC 3256 as seen by the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope. This Milky Way-sized galaxy lies about 120 million light-years away in the constellation Vela, and is a denizen of the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster.

NGC 3256 may seem peaceful, a swirl of tightly entwined spiral arms set in a hazy cloud of light, but this image shows the aftermath of an ancient cosmic clash. This distorted galaxy is the wreckage of a head-on collision between two equally massive spiral galaxies which astronomers estimate to have met around 500 million years ago. The tumultuous past of NGC 3256 is captured in the long tendrils of shining dust and stars which extend outwards from the main body of the galaxy. The striking red and orange regions spread across the galaxy contain young stars created in the merger that are irradiating small dust grains, which then emit infrared light that is captured in astonishing detail by Webb’s instruments. Further out, there are extended tidal features, which are mostly stars pulled out of the galaxies when they collided.

Learn more about this image here.


ESA/Webb, NASA & CSA, L. Armus, N. Bartmann (ESA/Webb)
Music: Stellardrone - Twilight

About the Video

Release date:3 July 2023, 06:00
Duration:30 s
Frame rate:25 fps

About the Object

Ultra HD (info)



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