Cute galaxies look like a penguin guarding its egg

NASA reveals an endearing space telescope portrait of two galaxies that together resemble a penguin watching over its egg.

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.
Amanda Kooser
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This once-spiral galaxy now resembles a watchful penguin looking over an egg-shaped galaxy.


Can galaxies be cute? Yes, yes they can. 

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope combined their efforts to produce a new look at a pair of galaxies called Arp 142, but more adorably known as "the Penguin and the Egg."

The penguin (formal name NGC 2336) likely started off as a spiral galaxy that was distorted by the neighboring egg (NGC 2937). The egg is much different from its companion, both in looks and behavior. 

"The absence of glowing red dust features informs us that it has long since lost its reservoir of gas and dust from which new stars can form," NASA said in a release on Wednesday.

This radiant view of the galactic pair comes from combining light in both visible and infrared spectrums as seen by the two space telescopes. 

While the galaxies strike a charming pose right now, NASA says "their mutual gravitational attraction slowly drags them closer together." They will merge into each other over time and eventually lose their resemblance to a waterfowl watching over its unhatched young. The two are about 23 million light-years away. 

At least the Penguin and the Egg are a lot friendlier-looking than some of the universe's more ominous cosmic creations, like the Spider nebula or this skull-like asteroid

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