While most researchers and astronomers flock to the Webb Space Telescope for the latest, greatest photos of the furthest reaches of space, other scientists continue using its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, to complete their research. One of those projects using the Hubble recently returned a stunning image of two distant galaxies that appear to be on a collision course with each other.
Shared to the NASA social media pages this week, two spiral galaxies more than a billion light-years from Earth appear in the image and can be seen crossing each other's paths as if they're absorbing each other. As the space agency says, however, it's all a perception trick and both galaxies are independently safe.
"Upon first view, these two spiral galaxies, which lie more than a billion light-years away from Earth, appear to overlap one another," the caption alongside the photo reads. "In actuality, despite appearing to collide in this image, the alignment of the two galaxies is likely just by chance—the two are not actually interacting."
NASA explains the photo was taken as part of the Galaxy Zoo project, a program launched in 2007 that taps both astronomers and citizen scientists to help identify and classify galaxies across the known universe.
"Over the course of the original Galaxy Zoo project, volunteers discovered a menagerie of weird and wonderful galaxies such as unusual three-armed spiral galaxies and colliding ring galaxies," NASA adds. "The astronomers coordinating the project applied for Hubble time to observe the most unusual inhabitants of the Galaxy Zoo—but true to the project's crowdsourced roots, the list of targets was chosen by a public vote."