Hubble Telescope Captures 'Sparkling Pink' Ring Galaxy (PICTURES)

18/03/2013 12:33 | Updated 18 May 2013

Nasa and the European Space Agency have captured a rare picture of a 'ring galaxy' far off in deep space.

Ring galaxies are thought to the result of one galaxy slamming into the galactic disk of another, larger, one. The stars and planets of the two galaxies do not actually collide - for all their dense appearance from far away galaxies are big enough to maintain light years between their billions of constituent stars.

But the gravitational impact of the collision as a whole is still massive, and the dispruption results in a dense core with many new, young stars forming in a ring around the outside.

The "sparkling pink and purple loop" of ZWII28 is "not typical" of ring galaxies, however. Nasa said there may be a "possible companion" in the ring, and that the galaxy itself might be shaped like a knot.

Nasa explains:

"This disruption upsets the material in both galaxies, and redistributes it forming a dense central core, encircled by bright stars. All this commotion causes clouds of gas and dust to collapse and triggers new periods of intense star formation in the outer ring, which is full of hot, young, blue stars and regions that are actively giving rise to new stars."

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