Dancing With the Stars

Courtesy NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dancing-with-the-stars-180940809/#ZjjmmIdhGExvh0VI.99 Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv Follow us: @Smithsoni

One of the first headlines I ever wrote was for a letter-to-the-editor on a story about rhesus monkeys. I called it Rhesus Pieces, and have been disrespecting the man who invented the word "pun" ever since.

Fast-forward to today: I give you the above title and image, which scientists are calling a "graceful dance of interacting galaxies." Hubble captured the merging of this pair of galaxies, known as Arp 87, named for astronomer Halton Arp who discovered it in the 1960s. (No relation to "Faust Arp," a track on the new Radiohead album that's also twisting the universe by being offered for free--yet still selling well.)

Gas, stars and other particles from the galaxy on the right have drifted outward and been caught in the gravitational pull of the galaxy on the left, creating that spiral effect. To me it looks rather like the cosmic version of God touching Adam's hand in the Sistine Chapel. Or perhaps the galaxy on the right is full of E.T.'s, reaching for that bright orange star at the top that looks fittingly like an orange Reese's Pieces.

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