CREDIT; ROYAL GREENWICH OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CREDIT; ROYAL GREENWICH OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Optical CCD image of interacting galaxies NGC 5216 and NGC 5218. This photo was taken by a CCD (charge- coupled device) camera mounted on the Royal Greenwich Observatory's Isaac Newton Telescope at the La Palma Observatory. On ordinary optical photographs NGC 5216 and NGC 5218 appear to be completely different systems, but the more sensitive CCD detector reveals a 'rope of stars' linking them. The colours here show levels of brightness, with the background sky coloured pink. The thin 'rope' connecting the galaxies consists of stars torn out of the two galaxies by their gravitational pull on each other. Exposure 400 sec, filter R, prime focus.
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