Lonely Planet Writer

A star is born: two galaxies merge to form new one

A star is born! Or rather, a galaxy. Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope astronomers this week were able to catch a glimpse of the moment a new galaxy was born.

Birth of a new galaxy while two galaxies merge into one
Birth of a new galaxy while two galaxies merge into one Image by NASA

For the first time ever, its camera was able to pick up on the incredible moment when two galaxies collide to form a new one.

The lens of the camera had been focusing on the galaxy NGC 6052, some 230 million light-years away, in a constellation known as Hercules. But in fact this was not a galaxy. According to the European Space Authority, the galaxy that was being observed was two new galaxies merging after gravitational pull forced them to collide. So what is being observed is a brand new galaxy that is in the process of forming.

“Eventually, this new galaxy will settle down into a stable shape, which may not resemble either of the two original galaxies,” NASA said in a statement. 

The new galaxy is described as having an extremely “chaotic” shape by NASA. The light that is visible around the galaxy is created by the stars in the galaxy  being “thrown out of their original orbits and placed onto entirely new paths, some very distant from the region of the collision itself.”

It’s the first episode of its kind to be witnessed since the Hubble Telescope was invented in 1990.