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Hubble Sees the Messy Result of a Galactic Collision

an off-center spiral galaxy appears to radiate a blur of stars through its axis and another, dimmer ray at 20 degrees off the axis.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola
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This new image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures an ongoing cosmic collision between two galaxies — a spiral galaxy is in the process of colliding with a lenticular galaxy. The collision looks almost as if it is popping out of the screen in 3-D, with parts of the spiral arms clearly embracing the lenticular galaxy’s bulge.

The image also reveals further evidence of the collision. There is a bright stream of stars coming out from the merging galaxies, extending out towards the top of the image. The bright spot in the middle of the plume, known as ESO 576-69, is what makes this image unique. This spot is believed to be the nucleus of the former spiral galaxy, which was ejected from the system during the collision and is now being shredded by tidal forces to produce the visible stellar stream.


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