NASA celebrates Hubble-ween with grinning 'Greater Pumpkins' galaxies

NASA spots a seasonal space squash.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
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The Hubble Space Telescope caught two galaxies in the act of colliding. Their orange color earned them the nickname "Greater Pumpkin."

NASA, ESA, and W. Keel (University of Alabama)

The It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown animated Peanuts special might not be airing on broadcast TV this year, but you can look to the cosmos for your giant pumpkin Halloween fix. The Hubble Space Telescope spied a pair of galaxies that could pass as a space jack-o'-lantern. 

Hubble -- a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency -- snapped a spooky view of two galaxies colliding, and it reminded NASA of the Peanuts pumpkin, so it earned the nickname "Greater Pumpkin." 

"'Great' is an understatement in this case because the galaxy pair spans 100,000 light-years," NASA said in a statement on Thursday. "The 'pumpkin's' glowing 'eyes' are the bright, star-filled cores of each galaxy that contain supermassive black holes." NASA pointed out the smile-like formation of stars that curves underneath the pair. 

The orange-ish color comes from red stars. The galaxies, officially named NGC  2292 and NGC  2293, are still in the process of their slo-mo collision. The duo may end up forming a giant spiral galaxy. 

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The galaxies are located in the Canis Major constellation at a distance of 120 million light-years away from us. 

While the Greater Pumpkin nickname is a good fit, fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas might notice a strong resemblance to another famous Halloween character: Jack Skellington.

See also: How to watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for free online