This cosmic encounter is known as Arp 122 and is seen here as photographed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Arp 122 It is located approximately 570 million light years from Earth in the constellation Hercules.
“Galactic collisions and mergers are monumentally energetic and dramatic events, but they take place on a very slow time scale,” Hubble astronomers said in a statement.
“For example, our Milky Way is on the way to collide with its nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy, but these two galaxies are a good 4 billion years away before they actually meet.”
“The collision and merger process will not be quick either: it could take hundreds of millions of years to develop.”
“These collisions take so long because of the truly enormous distances involved.”
“Galaxies are composed of stars and their solar systems, dust and gas,” the researchers added.
“Therefore, in galactic collisions, these components can experience enormous changes in the gravitational forces acting on them.”
“Over time, this completely changes the structure of the two (or more) colliding galaxies and sometimes ultimately results in a single merging galaxy.”
“That could well be the result of the collision shown in this image.”
“Galaxies that result from mergers are thought to have a regular or elliptical structure, as the merger process alters more complex structures (such as those observed in spiral galaxies).”
“It would be fascinating to know what Arp 122 will look like once this collision is complete, but that won’t happen for a long, long time.”