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News Release Archive:

News Release 813 of 955

January 10, 1995 05:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1995-02

Hubble Views a Starry Ring World Born in a Head-On Collision

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 10, 1995: A rare and spectacular head-on collision between two galaxies appears in this Hubble telescope picture of the Cartwheel Galaxy, located 500 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor.

The striking ring-like feature is a direct result of a smaller intruder galaxy — possibly one of two objects to the right of the ring — that careened through the core [close-up image at lower left] of the host galaxy. Like a rock tossed into a lake, the collision sent a ripple of energy into space, plowing gas and dust in front of it. Expanding at 200,000 mph, this cosmic tsunami leaves in its wake a firestorm of new star creation. Hubble resolves bright blue knots that are gigantic clusters of newborn stars [close-up image at upper left] and immense loops and bubbles blown into space by exploding stars (called supernovae) going off like a string of firecrackers.

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Credit: Kirk Borne (STScI), and NASA