(ORDO NEWS) — The cloud of dust and bright swirls of stars in this image represent a distant galactic collision called IC 2431, which lies 681 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Cancer.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured the cosmic scene, which is a time-evolving triple collision between galaxies, as well as an explosive mixture of star formation and tidal distortion of the shape of galaxies caused by a triple gravitational interaction.
A dense cloud of dust obscures the center of the image from observation – although light coming from the direction of the galaxy lying in the background breaks through it at the edges.
This image was taken as part of the Hubble Observation Program of unusual and amazing galaxies discovered by members of the Galaxy Zoo, an amateur galaxy identification project.
Using Hubble’s onboard Advanced Camera for Surveys, astronomers took a closer look at some of the unusual galaxies identified by volunteers.
The original Galaxy Zoo project was the largest “census” of galaxies ever conducted in the history of space observation, and used the help of more than 100,000 volunteers to classify 900,000 unexplored galaxies.
This project allowed in just 175 days to achieve what a professional astronomer would spend several years of his life working around the clock, and gave rise to other similar projects using the help of amateur astronomers to work with astronomical data and images.
More recent Galaxy Zoo projects have included the largest collision studies between galaxies and dwarf galaxies, as well as the discovery of entirely new classes of compact galaxies with active star formation.
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