Newswise — public has voted on where they want to aim their favorite space observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope.

And the winner is-drum roll please--a pair of close-knit galaxies that look like they are shaking hands--or rather spiral arms.

Out of a total of 139,944 votes cast online by the public since the "Hubble, You Decide" contest opened on January 28, nearly 50 percent favored the interacting pair of spiral galaxies called Arp 274 (from the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies) over five other celestial candidates.

Hubble has shown that interacting galaxies are very photogenic because, under the relentless pull of gravity, they weave elegant twisted lanes of dust and stars, and brilliant blue clusters of newborn stars. The new picture of Arp 274 promises to reveal intriguing never-before-seen details in the galactic grand slam.

The Hubble observations will be taken during the International Year of Astronomy's "100 Hours of Astronomy," taking place from April 2 - 5. The full-color galaxy image will be released publicly during that time.

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The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) and is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Md. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. The institute is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., Washington, D.C.

STScI is an International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) program partner.