The Hubble Space Telescope has captured on camera images of two galaxies crashing into each other at a speed of thousands of miles per hour. The colour composite images were taken in 2007 by the Hubbles Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and recently released. The two galaxies in the final stages of colliding are about 250 million light years away in the constellation of Cancer (the Crab). They form a single, giant body scientists are calling NGC 2623.
Although the galaxies’ cores, consisting of hundreds of billions of individuals stars, have merged at their cores, vast clusters of younger stars continue forming in the gas and dust trailing in the wake of each galaxy. The long tails of young stars show that the mergers huge exchange of energies and gases has ignited new star formation. In the tails can also be noted around 100 prominent star groupings which are brighter than anything in our own vicinity and might have been formed from the collisions debris falling back into the nucleus. he collision has evolved into an active galactic nucleus (AGN).
The supermassive black hole at the middle of one of the original galaxies attracts surrounding matter, creating a rapidly spinning disc. Its motion heats the disc to unbelievable temperatures, ejecting huge quantities of radiation into space. Since it is so bright in the infrared spectrum, NGC 2623 is a type of galaxy known as luminous infrared galaxies (LIRG), which are being studied in the Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey (GOALS) project.