This mesmerizing image made by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the galaxy NGC 7714, which is in a state of confusion.
100-200 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, NGC 7714 came too close to another galaxy NGC 7715 (in the frame on the right) and extreme gravitational forces dragged one of its once elegant spiral arms deep into intergalactic space. Currently, the scattered stars represent the star bridge to the second galaxy, producing an exchange of star-forming material.
This digitized image from the Sky Survey shows the galaxy NGC 7714 and its surroundings. This galaxy is in the process of merging with its neighbor NGC 7715, which is also visible in this image. Together they form a pair of Arp 284 fusions. Both galaxies are about 100 million light-years away from Earth.
However, this galactic collision did not become bad news for NGC 7714. Such a meeting disorganized the interstellar gas it contains, prompting a new wave of star formation. This wave in the image is highlighted in bright blue.
Because of the huge number of newborn stars, astronomers call NGC 7714 also the Wolf-Rayet star-forming galaxy. Many of the young massive stars are also known as Wolf Rayet stars.