In the captivating scene captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the striking irregular galaxy Arp 263, also known as NGC 3239, makes a subtle appearance in the background. However, it’s the dazzling bright star BD+17 2217 that dominates the view as a stellar photobomber. Arp 263, with its patchy and irregular structure adorned with regions of recent star formation, is believed to have formed from the collision and merger of two galaxies. This intriguing celestial object resides approximately 25 million light-years away in the Leo constellation.
This awe-inspiring image of Arp 263 is the result of two separate Hubble investigations utilizing different instruments. The first investigation focused on observing recent supernova sites, such as the one named SN 2012A, which occurred in Arp 263 over a decade ago. Using Hubble’s potent Wide Field Camera 3, astronomers scoured the galaxy for remnants of this colossal stellar explosion. The second investigation, conducted with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, aimed to capture images of peculiar galaxies in the Arp catalog, including Arp 263. These images serve as a basis for selecting promising targets for further study with the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.
The foreground star, BD+17 2217, intrudes into the image, showcasing two sets of intersecting diffraction spikes. Hubble’s internal structure interacts with light, creating four prominent spikes around concentrated bright objects like stars. Since this particular image of BD+17 2217 combines two sets of Hubble data taken at different orientations, the spikes from both datasets surround this stellar photobomber at varying angles. This unique feature adds to the overall allure of the cosmic snapshot.