When galaxies collide
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of what was originally thought to be one irregular galaxy in the Hercules constellation.
A long time ago gravity drew the two galaxies together into the chaotic state we now observe. Stars from within both of the original galaxies now follow new trajectories caused by the new gravitational effects. However, actual collisions between stars themselves are very rare as stars are very small relative to the distances between them (most of a galaxy is empty space). Eventually the galaxies will fully merge to form a single, stable galaxy.
Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, will undergo a similar collision in the future with our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. However, this is not expected to happen for around 4 billion years.
Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, A. Adamo et al.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.
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