“… The image was obtained, appropriately enough by the Gemini South telescope in Chile using GMOS, the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph. These two nearly identical spiral galaxies are in Virgo, 90 million light years distant, in the early stages of a gentle gravitational embrace.
“Like two dancers grabbing hands while passing, NGC 5427 (the nearly open-faced spiral galaxy at lower left) and its southern twin NGC 5426 (the more oblique galaxy at upper right), are in the throes of a slow but disturbing interaction one that could take a hundred million years to complete.
“Typically, the first sign of a galaxy interaction is the formation of a bridge-like feature. Indeed, the two spiral arms on the western (upper) side of NGC 5426 appear as long appendages that connect with NGC 5427. This intergalactic bridge acts like a feeding tube, allowing the twins to share gas and dust with one other across the 60,000 light years (less than one galaxy diameter) of space separating them.”