Spiraling through space, three distant galaxies collide and unite in a fascinating new photograph captured by the space telescope. Hubble. The object is called IC 2431 and is located about 681 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Crab, according to information released by ESA.
The image shows the triple merger of developing galaxies, as well as a tumultuous mix of star formation and distortions caused by the gravitational interactions of the galactic trio.
The merger was detected thanks to a citizen-organized science project called Galaxy Zoo, which challenged more than 100,000 volunteers to classify space telescope images of 900,000 galaxies that had never been examined.
This project accomplished in 175 days what would have taken astronomers years to achieve, refer to NASAadding that the initiative has already yielded a number of exciting discoveries, like this one.
Galactic mergers aren’t really a new thing. Hubble recorded the merger of two galaxies earlier this year and there’s even a prediction that the Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda Galaxy in 4.5 billion years.
See some of the best images ever captured by Hubble
Studying these types of events can help astronomers better understand the past and future of our galaxy. The Milky Way is thought to have devoured more than a dozen other galaxies over the past 12 billion years.