May 15 (UPI) — Some 500 million light-years from Earth, a pair of galaxies are whizzing by one another at high speeds.
The Hubble Space Telescope was recently able to image the near-collision using both its Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys. The result is a portrait of two galaxies appearing as one.
But the near-miss won’t result in a newly merged galaxy. Though passing at a distance of just 20,000 light-years, they are moving too fast. The galaxies are flying past each other at a speed of 1,243,000 miles per hour.
The gravity of each, however, will transform the structure of the other on a grand scale.
Galactic collisions and mergers aren’t uncommon, and remain a constant target for Hubble and its human controllers. The Milky Way itself will eventually — in 4.5 billion years — collide with and be subsumed by the Andromeda Galaxy.