Skip to main content

When Galaxies Collide: Photos of Great Galactic Crashes

Merging Galaxies Obscure Huge Black Hole

NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)/ E. Treister and K. Teramura (IfA, University of Hawaii)

Examples of merging galaxies containing a heavily obscured growing supermassive black hole observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The top panels show nearby galaxies at ~500 million light-years from us, while the more distant galaxies in the bottom panels are ~6.5 billion light years away, when the universe was half its current age.

Black Hole Knocked Off Axis By Galaxy Collision

X-ray (NASA/CXC/UMD/Hodges-Kluck et al): Radio (NSF/NRAO/VLA/UMD/Hodges-Kluck et al); Optical (SDSS) Full Story

This X-ray image of hot gas in and around 4C +00.58 reveals four different cavities -- regions of lower than average X-ray emission -- around a black hole that was disturbed by galaxy interactions. These cavities come in pairs: one in the top-right and bottom-left (labeled cavities #1 and #2 respectively), and another in the top-left and bottom-right (labeled cavities #3 and #4 respectively). Special processing was applied to this image to make the cavities more obvious.

Galaxy Collision May Reveal Insights on Universe's Evolution

ESO [Full Story]

This new image shows the results of a vast collision between two galaxies. This strange object is known as NGC 7252, or Arp 226, and has the odd nickname Atoms-for-Peace. The picture was taken at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile. It is a combination of exposures taken through blue and red filters, for a total exposure time of more than four hours.

Collisions Don't Always Feed Black Holes

NASA, ESA, M. Cisternas

A study using images from the Hubble Space Telescope has found that galaxies with powerful black holes at their cores - called Active Galactic Nuclei or AGN (on the left) need not rely on galaxy collisions to grow. Non-AGN galaxies are shown on the right. The photos come from the COSMOS survey using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Space Tadpoles Signal Black Hole Mergers

A. Straughn/S. Cohen/R. Windhorst/NASA/HUDF team

An image of 36 young galaxies caught in the act of merging. They are called "tadpole" galaxies because of their distinct knot-and-tail shapes.

NGC 5426

Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona

NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are two spiral galaxies known together as Arp 271. Image created February-March 2012.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.