Intergalactic wrestling match is caught on camera in digitally enhanced Hubble telescope photo of two galaxies which collided 200million years ago

  • The arms of spiral galaxy, spanning billions of miles, are being bent out of shape
  • This is due to the massive forces of gravity generated by a neighbouring galaxy 
  • NASA’s Hubble Telescope captured the scene  –  bright bursts of exploding stars

An award winning image shows an ongoing galactic battle – an entire galaxy being torn apart because it drifted too close to its neighbour around 200 million years ago.

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 – which has now been painstakingly recoloured by an astrophotographer.

NGC 7714 is a spiral galaxy located 100 million light-years from Earth – making it a relatively close neighbour in cosmic terms.

NASA’s Hubble Telescope image captures the NGC 7714 galaxy also known as the spiral galaxy which is being torn apart by it neighbouring galaxy NGS7715

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, 69, of Ottawa 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 arm of the spiral galaxy (the blue) has been twisted out of shape and has also produced huge explosions of stars (one in centre)

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.

Rudy Pohl, 69, of Ottowa in Canada, amateur astrophotographer with his Sky-Watcher HEQ5  telescope

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.

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.’

Rudy, once a keen wildlife photographer, became interested in ‘deep space’ astrophotography four years ago after he fell ill and was forced to sell his cameras.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was used to capture the best and sharpest look to date at Comet Borisov, the second ever-known interstellar object to visit our solar system

Earlier this year Hubble revealed a new image of a ‘smiling galaxy cluster’. Taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) shows a galaxy cluster officially known as SDSS J0952+3434.

He added: ‘Creating these shots is a great way of getting involved in space photography if you can’t take the pictures yourself.

NASA says the ‘mouth’ is created by a trick of the light.

‘Many people live in cities where the light pollution is too intense for photography, so assigning the colours from the Hubble data is a great alternative.’

Rudy and his wife became pastors forty years ago after having a ‘spiritual conversion’ experience.

He has since left the church but still holds strong religious – and scientific – beliefs.

This gives him a ‘extremely unique’ perspective on space.

He said: ‘I’m a very strong believer in evolution and all aspects of science. At the same time, I was a pastor and I believe in a creator.

A mosaic image made of nearly 7,500 photos taken by NASA’s Hubble Telescope  (pictured) is ‘the largest and most comprehensive history book of the universe’, say scientist.

‘It gives me a wonderful view of creation.

‘I’m not the only person interested in space who also believes in God.

‘NASA has a whole group of these people who are top flight scientists and also Christians.’

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.


The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

It is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.

He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which is does so – now coined the Hubble constant. 

The Hubble telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)

Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.

It orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude.

Hubble has the pointing accuracy of .007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head on a dime roughly 200 miles (320km) away.

The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble who was responsible for coming up with the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all-time

Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) across and in total is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long – the length of a large school bus.

Hubble’s launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope. 

Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same. 

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