Cartwheel Galaxy. A true-color image located 500 million light-years away 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 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 miles per hour, this cosmic tsunami leaves in its wake a firestorm of new star creation. The Cartwheel Galaxy presumably was a normal spiral galaxy like our Milky Way before the collision. This spiral structure is beginning to re-emerge, as seen in the faint arms or spokes between the outer ring and bulls-eye shaped nucleus. The ring contains at least several billion new stars that would not normally have been created in such a short time span. It is so large (150,000 light-years across) that our entire Milky Way Galaxy would fit inside. Credit: Kirk Borne (ST ScI), and NASA.
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