Hubble views a merging galactic trio

This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope features a stunning trio of merging galaxies in the constellation Boötes. These three galaxies are on a collision track and will ultimately merge into a single, bigger galaxy, causing gravitational interactions between them to alter one another's spiral structures. 

The blurred forms of many more distant galaxies can be seen in the distance, and a seemingly unconnected foreground galaxy appears to float serenely close to this tableau.

Astronomers refer to this trio of galaxies colliding as SDSSCGB 10189. It is a somewhat uncommon configuration of three massive star-forming galaxies that are barely 50,000 light-years apart from one another. Although while it would seem like a safe distance, for galaxies, that puts them in close proximity. 

The closest big galaxy to the Milky Way, Andromeda, is more than 2.5 million light-years distant from Earth. Our own galaxy's companions are far farther away.

This photo was taken during an observation that was intended to provide light on the universe's most enormous and gigantic galaxies' origins. These enormous galaxies are referred as as Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs), and as their name implies, they are the brightest galaxies in any particular galaxy cluster. Scientists think that massive, gas-rich galaxies like the ones seen here combine to produce BCGs. 

In an effort to offer information on the birth of the universe's most massive galaxies, they used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys to painstakingly study this galactic triple.

Provided by NASA