This is a system of merging galaxies with a bizarre shape. Powerful young starburst regions hang as long threadlike structures between the main galaxy cores. The system almost qualifies as an ultra-luminous system, but has not yet reached the late stage of coalescence that is the norm for most ultra-luminous systems. II Zw 96 is located in the constellation of Delphinus, the Dolphin, about 500 million light-years away from Earth.
This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on the occasion of its 18th anniversary on 24th April 2008.