The spiral galaxy known as NGC 7714 is turning itself into a glorious gravitational mess in a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope. The view was captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys in October 2011, and released to the public on Thursday.
NGC 7714 is about 100 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation Pisces. It's being pulled apart like a stretchy piece of taffy, thanks to gravitational interaction with a neighboring galaxy called NGC 7715.
A golden loop of sunlike stars is swinging out from the galaxy's center. You can also make out a faint bridge of hot, bluish stars stretching off to the left toward NGC 7715, which is just outside the Hubble picture's field of view. The close encounter has compressed interstellar gas to trigger still more bursts of star formation, seen as bright blue arcs extending around NGC 7714's center.
- Hubble Snaps 1.5 Billion-Pixel Galaxy Close-Up
- Hubble Team Shares Greatest Hits
- Gallery: The Year in Space Pictures