A photograph taken with Hubble space telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 is giving astronomers a closer look at NGC 6052, a galaxy previously described as “abnormal” that, on second glance, is actually the site of an intergalactic crash. This bit of deep space rubbernecking has revealed that NGC 6052, some 230 million light-years away, is actually two galaxies smashing into each other and reforming as a single body. This process remains incomplete.
The images are particularly exciting because they show the ways in which stars can be redirected by the force of gravity.
The galaxy on the make is in the constellation known as Hercules. The collision was roughly coincidental with the beginning of Earth’s Triassic period and the emergence of dinosaurs. NASA is now describing NGC 6052 as a new galaxy because space time makes geologic time look fast.