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When Galaxies Collide: Beautiful Images of Cosmic Impacts

Galactic collisions are one of the most ferocious and most stunning events in our universe. In this gallery, Wired takes a look at some of the most amazing images ever taken of these cosmic pile-ups.
  • Noemi C

    These two spiral galaxies have been colliding for over 100 million years. The intergalactic battle has spurred the creation of millions of new stars, the most massive of which have already exploded into supernovae. Three of NASA’s space telescopes have combined forces to create the sharpest image yet of the merging Antennae galaxies, located 62 million light years from Earth. X-ray data from Chandra X-Ray Observatory is blue, optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope is gold and brown, and infrared data from Spitzer Space Telescope is red. The photos were taken between 1999 and 2002, and combine 117 hours of observation. The image gives us a sneak preview of what may happen when the Milky Way collides with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy in several billion years.

  • Sharon R. Thompson

    Outer Space --- A beautiful new image of two colliding galaxies has been released by NASA's Great Observatories. The Antennae galaxies, located about 62 million light-years from Earth, are shown in this composite image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), the Hubble Space Telescope (gold and brown), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (red).

  • Rachelle Aune

    The Antennae Galaxy (photo NASA) | Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Related Pins

The merging Antennae galaxies - As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars.

Antennae Galaxies(NGC 4038/4039)

The Sombrero Galaxy is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo located 28 million light-years from Earth.

This composite NASA image of the spiral galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away

Located about 130 million light-years away, NGC 4650A is one of only 100 known polar-ring galaxies.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has captured infrared images of the "Whirlpool Galaxy" (M51), revealing strange structures bridging the gaps between the dust-rich spiral arms, and tracing the dust, gas and stellar populations in both the bright spiral galaxy and its companion.

The Black Eye Galaxy (also called Sleeping Beauty Galaxy; designated M64) absorbed a satellite galaxy that collided with it, perhaps more than one billion years ago. Active formation of new stars is occurring in the shear region where the oppositely rotating gases collide, are compressed, and contract. It is approximately 17 million light years from Earth. The inner region has a radius of only approximately 3,000 light-years, while the outer section extends another 40,000 light-years.

A káosz gyermekei vagyunk, és a változás mélystruktúrája a felbomlás. Lényegében nincs semmi más, csak a bomlás és a káosz feltartóztathatatlan áradata. Célnak nyoma sincs; semmi nem maradt ezen az irányultságon kívül. Ha tárgyilagosan pillantunk az univerzum mélyébe, kénytelenek vagyunk elfogadni ezt a kilátástalanságot. Peter Atkins

'The Galaxy Church' taken in Tekapo, Canterbury, New Zealand by anthonyko on flickr