This is what it looks like when two galaxies collide

There's high drama happening way out in space as Hubble sees two galaxies getting into an ill-fated tussle.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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These galaxies are melding together.

ESA/Hubble & NASA

When two galaxies come together, it's not exactly a gentle hug-fest. Check out this Hubble Space Telescope image and the mooshed-up splatter of light in the center. That messy smear is made up of two galaxies engaged in an act of mutual destruction after they got too close to each other. The galaxies' gravity is now causing them to merge.

This celestial object is called IRAS 14348-1447. According to the European Space Agency, the dramatic combination is happening over a billion light-years away from Earth.

IRAS 14348-1447 is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy. A 1988 paper on the object explains how the galaxy system "emits more than 95 percent of its energy at far-infrared wavelengths."

The system looks delicate, wispy and ethereal in this image shared by NASA Tuesday, but you wouldn't want to try to get between the two galaxies. The ESA describes the event as slow and destructive.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched back in 1990 and outlived its original 15-year lifespan. It's now scheduled to stay in operation until at least 2021, so we can expect many more images of the fascinating lives of galaxies.

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