Exclamation mark formed in space by two colliding galaxies

Gaby Leslie

An awesome image that has been released by Nasa shows two galaxies colliding to resemble an enormous purple exclamation mark.

The celestial shape was partly captured by the famous Hubble Telescope and is currently happening 450 million light years from Earth in the constellation of Bootes.

According to NASA, the pair of gas-rich spiral galaxies known together as Arp 302 are in the early stages of interaction.

The edge-on galaxy near the top of the image is called VV 340 North and the face-on galaxy at the bottom of the image is VV 340 South.

During their interaction, an enormous amount of infrared light is radiated by the gas from massive stars that are forming at a rate similar to the most vigorous giant star-forming regions in our own Milky Way.

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Millions of years later the two spirals will merge - much like the Milky Way and Andromeda are expected to do billions of years from now.

The merging galaxies generate energy at a rate that is tens to hundreds of times larger than that emitted by a typical galaxy.

Watch the video of the galaxies colliding below.