When Two Become One: Twisted Cosmic Knot Shines in Hubble Photo

Twisted Cosmic Knot
This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one. (Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)

This stunning image shows a galaxy appearing to spin across space. It's actually the result of a major collision between two galaxies creating a twisted cosmic knot. The galaxy, known as NGC 2623, or Arp 243,  is located about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Cancer (the Crab), according to a NASA statement.

The violent collision caused quite a dust-up, triggering clouds of gas to become compressed and drastically increase star formation. Many young, hot, newborn stars form in this galaxy marked by patches of bright blue in the center. The long, sweeping tails of this galaxy are clouds of gas and dust.

At least 170 bright, hot star clusters are known to exist within NGC 2623. The galaxy is in a late stage of merging. It gives scientists a glimpse into our own Milky Way, which may come to resemble this twisted pattern when it merges with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy in roughly 4 billion years.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.