Snapshot: A spiral galaxy being picked apart

Pulled out of shape by a neighboring galaxy, NGC 2276 is a perfect example of how no two galaxies are exactly the same.
By | Published: May 28, 2021 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
NASA, ESA, STScI, Paul Sell (University of Florida)
Cotton candy is a delectable fair staple — dyed blue, the pieces sticking to your fingers as you pull on the spun sugar strands.

Like sugary sweet cotton candy coming apart strand by strand, the spiral galaxy NGC 2276 is also being pulled and picked apart. Located 120 million light-years away in the constellation Cepheus, it has a neighboring galaxy, NGC 2300, out of frame to the right. That galaxy is tugging on NGC 2276’s outer disk of stars and pulling them to one side.

On the other side of NGC 2276, massive newborn stars live in the bright, blue arm on the upper left. The intense star formation might be due to a collision between NGC 2276 and another dwarf galaxy many eons ago.

NGC 2276 is a perfect example of the physics of the cosmos. Nothing is uniform in space, but it sure is sweet to look at.