These Galaxies Are About To Crash Into Each Other

We knew galaxies collide with each other, but we rarely see beautiful pictures of them about to engage in a titanic clusterfuck. This is one of those: VV 340 North about hit VV 340 on the bracket.

VV 340, also known as Arp 302, provides a textbook example of colliding galaxies seen in the early stages of their interaction. The edge-on galaxy near the top of the image is VV 340 North and the face-on galaxy at the bottom of the image is VV 340 South. Millions of years later these two spirals will merge—much like the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely do billions of years from now. Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple) are shown here along with optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red, green, blue). VV 340 is located about 450 million light years from Earth.

Of course, the "about to" part will last a few million years. Or rather, it has lasted a few million years, since it already happened but we can't see it in real time because of the speed of light.

I hope someone is setting up a camera that lasts for a few millenia, because that's going to be one hell of a timelapse. [NASA]