This celestial firestorm is the blazing wreckage of a collision between two spiral galaxies. The two galaxies, whose bright yellow cores appear to the lower left and upper right of center, began their fateful confrontation a few hundred million years ago. Formally known as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, the pair is nicknamed the Antennae Galaxies because of two long streamers of stars, gas, and dust that extend from the crash site.
NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI);
Acknowledgment: NASA, ESA, A. Fujii, Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, Palomar/Caltech, UKSTU/AAO, B. Twardy/A. Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF, M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), B. Whitmore (STScI), Hubble Heritage (STScI)–ESA/HST
Publication: October 16, 2006