ESO 148-2 is a beautiful object that resembles an owl in flight. It consists of a pair of former disk galaxies undergoing a collision. The cores of the two individual galaxies - seen at the center of the image - are embedded in hot dust and contain a large number of stars. Two huge wings sweep out from the center and curve in opposite directions. These are tidal tails of stars and gas that have been pulled from the easily distorted disks of the galaxies. This cosmic owl is one of the most luminous infrared galaxies known and is located some 600 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.