Astronomy textbooks typically present galaxies as staid, solitary, and majestic island worlds of glittering stars. But galaxies have a dynamical side. They have close encounters that sometimes end in grand mergers and overflowing sites of new star birth as the colliding galaxies morph into wondrous new shapes. MCG+08-11-002 is an odd-looking galaxy with a spectacular dark band of absorbing dust in front of the galaxy's center, making it resemble a "Black Eye". Scientists believe that it is the remnant of an earlier collision of two separate galaxies. This peculiar galaxy is at the center of a rich field of foreground stars, close to the plane of our own Milky Way galaxy. MCG+08-11-002 is about 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer.
Celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope's 18th launch anniversary, 59 views of colliding galaxies constitute the largest collection of Hubble images ever released to the public. This new Hubble atlas dramatically illustrates how galaxy collisions produce a remarkable variety of intricate structures in never-before-seen detail.
Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)