NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University), K. Noll (STScI), and J. Westphal (Caltech)
NASA and the European Space Agency have released 59 new images of colliding galaxies from the archives of Hubble Space Telescope, to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the telescope's launch. Galactic mergers keep the universe active, triggering bursts of star formation along with supernovae and quasars. They happen slowly over billions of years and in many stages, a dozen of which are shown in this collage of images, captured in an investigation of luminous and "ultraluminous" infrared galaxies. Collisions between galaxies occurred more frequently in the early universe than now, but they continue to shape the universe. Our very own Milky Way may well collide with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy in the next few billion years, forming a new entity: "Milkomeda."