The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has taken a beautiful picture of the unusual spiral galaxy NGC 34.
This Hubble image shows NGC 34, a spiral galaxy located 271 million light-years away in the constellation of Cetus. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / A. Adamo et al.
This galaxy was discovered in 1886 by the American astronomer Frank Muller and then observed again later that year by the American astronomer Lewis Swift.
Otherwise known as NGC 17, LEDA 781 or Mrk 938, it has a diameter of about 165,000 light-years.
NGC 34 is the result of a merger between two massive spiral galaxies.
“NGC 34 looks more like an otherworldly, bioluminescent creature from the deep oceans than a galaxy,” Hubble astronomers said.
“The galaxy’s outer region appears almost translucent, pinpricked with stars and strange wispy tendrils.”
“The main cause for this galaxy’s odd appearance lies in its past,” they said.
“If we were able to reverse time by a few million years, we would see two beautiful spiral galaxies on a direct collision course.”
“When these galaxies collided into one another, their intricate patterns and spiral arms were permanently disturbed.”
NGC 34 has a single nucleus, a blue central disk with delicate fine structure in the outer parts, and tidal tails indicative of two former spiral galaxies.
“As the galaxies continue to intertwine and become one, NGC 34’s shape will become more like that of an peculiar galaxy, devoid of any distinct shape,” the researchers said.
“In the vastness of space, collisions between galaxies are quite rare events, but they can be numerous in mega-clusters containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies.”