When galaxies collide, they appear distorted and strange.
This week, astronomers working on the NASA and European Space Agency’s legendary Hubble Space Telescope posted six images of vivid galactic mergers. You can see them below.
“It is during rare merging events that galaxies undergo dramatic changes in their appearance and in their stellar content,” the Hubble program wrote in a statement. “These systems are excellent laboratories to trace the formation of star clusters under extreme physical conditions.”
The six collisions shown here are part of the Hubble imaging Probe of Extreme Environments and Clusters survey, or HiPEEC, to better understand star creation in these wild cosmic places.
Remarkably dense clusters of stars form amid these merging galaxies, and they are extremely bright, leaving telltale evidence of long-ago cosmic collisions.
“Even after the collision, when the resulting galactic system begins to fade into a more quiescent phase, these very massive star clusters will shine throughout their host galaxy, as long-lasting witnesses of past merging events,” the Hubble astronomers wrote.