Galaxy Crash Is a Cosmic Bullseye
Some 330 million years ago, a galaxy in our cosmic neighborhood scored a bullseye, shooting right through the heart of large neighboring galaxy. The rare collision restructured the bigger galaxy, NGC 922, giving it the unusual, lopsided ring of hot pink clouds seen in images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Galaxies like NGC 922 are known as collisional ring galaxies, and only a few have been observed near the Milky Way, with the Cartwheel galaxy being perhaps the best known example.
While galaxy collisions are not unusual, it’s rare for them to line up with the precision needed to form a ring like the one seen in NGC 922. But even this example isn’t perfect. The alignment of the galaxies was slightly off center when they crashed, leading to a ring that’s not complete and much brighter on one side, Hubble scientists explained in a statement.