Galactic battle captured as Hubble spots a galaxy being torn apart

The NGC 7714 galaxy also known as the spiral galaxy is being torn apart by its neighbouring galaxy NGS 7715. (Hubble Heritage / Rudy Pohl / SWNS)

A stunning image shows a galactic battle – an entire galaxy being torn apart because it drifted too close to its neighbour.

The arms of the spiral galaxy, spanning billions of miles, are being bent out of shape in a giant celestial wrestling match due to the massive forces of gravity generated by a neighbouring galaxy.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope captured the incredible scene, where gravity twisted the starburst galaxy’s spiral arms out of shape and triggered bright bursts of exploding stars. NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy located 100 million light-years from Earth – making it a relatively close neighbour in cosmic terms.

It has a rough relationship with rogue neighbour NGC 7715, a smaller galaxy lying just outside of the image.

Retired pastor Rudy Pohl ‘meticulously’ produced the image by assigning different colours to a ‘grainy’ raw shot taken by the Hubble Telescope. The 16-hour job won the amateur astrophotographer his second NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) award in just six months on October 9.

Rudy Pohl who processed the image from the Nasa Hubble Telescope’s publically available archive (Rudy Pohl /

Rudy, 69, of Ottowa in Canada, said: ‘It’s one of the most beautiful images I have compiled. ‘It’s an attempt to show the gravitational forces of elements in space. This stuff is moving at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour, but when you look at them over the years they barely move.

‘That’s the vastness of space.’

The two galaxies became entangled between 100 and 200 million years ago, and began morphing each other’s shape. A ring and two long tails of stars emerged, creating a bridge between the two galaxies. This bridge acts as a pipeline, funnelling material from the smaller galaxy towards its larger companion. That material feeds bursts of star formation concentrated at the bright galactic centre.

Rudy is one of ‘thousands’ of astro-enthusiasts around the world who use publicly available data from the Hubble Legacy Archive website to produce pristine celestial images.

The Hubble Space Telescope (Nasa/National Geographic/Getty Images)

He added: “The Nasa photographers shoot the image with a red filter for a few hours at a time. They then do the same with a green and blue filter. The raw image is very grainy and blurry. So I meticulously assign the different tones of red, blue and green to produce the final picture.

‘Nasa astrophotographers often assign the colours themselves. When they do, the ultimate goal is getting your image to look just like theirs.’

NGC 7714 galaxy was discovered by astronomer John Herschel on 18 September 1830. The Hubble Space Telescope is an international project between the European Space Agency and NASA.


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