This is What a Galaxy Looks Like After a Cosmic Collision

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Forgive this spiral galaxy if it looks a little messy. It’s the survivor of a galactic collision that bent and twisted the galaxy’s original shape, according to astronomers.

This is NGC 428, and although it’s 48 million light years away from Earth, this Hubble image brings it much closer. It’s so detailed that you can see entire other galaxies in the background, if you look closely.

The darker areas in the image are streaks of interstellar dust, and the bright pink and red areas are clouds of glowing gas where new stars are blazing to life. There’s a lot of star formation in progress in NGC 428, thanks to the same collision that left the galaxy with its warped, messy shape. When two galaxies collide, their vast clouds of interstellar gas are forced together, creating intense pressure and heating. The heat and pressure kick start the process of star formation. [NASA]