This image, taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows a new galaxy – NGC 6052 – in the process of forming from the merger of two separate galaxies.
The event is taking place around 230 million light-years away in the constellation of Hercules.
During the merger, individual stars are thrown out of their original orbits and placed on to new paths, some very distant from the region of the collision itself.
Since the stars produce the light we see, the “galaxy” now appears to have a highly chaotic shape. Eventually, this new galaxy will settle down into a stable shape, which may not resemble either of the two original galaxies.