“Although galaxy collisions of this type are not uncommon, only a few galaxies with eye-like, or ocular, structures are known to exist,” said astronomer Michele Kaufman. “Galactic eyelids last only a few tens of millions of years, which is incredibly brief in the lifespan of a galaxy. Finding one in such a newly formed state gives us an exceptional opportunity to study what happens when one galaxy grazes another.”
Kaufman notes that the paucity of similar features in the observable universe is likely due to their ephemeral nature.
The interacting pair of galaxies resides approximately 114 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Canis Major. These galaxies brushed past each other — scraping the edges of their outer spiral arms — in what is likely the first encounter of an eventual merger.