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When Two Become One: Twisted Cosmic Knot Shines in Hubble Photo
This image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows what happens when two galaxies become one.
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.

Editor's note: You can see amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here. If you have a night sky photo you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

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