NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has imaged an unusual edge-on galaxy, revealing remarkable
details of its warped dusty disc and showing how colliding galaxies trigger the birth of new stars.
The image, taken by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), is online at
http://heritage.stsci.edu and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/wfpc. The camera was designed and built by
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. During observations of the galaxy, the camera passed
a milestone, taking its 100,000th image since shuttle astronauts installed it in Hubble in 1993.
The dust and spiral arms of normal spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, look flat when seen edge-
on. The new image of the galaxy ESO 510-G13 shows an unusual twisted disc structure, first seen in
ground-based photographs taken at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. ESO 510-G13 lies in the
southern constellation Hydra, some 150 million light-years from Earth. Details of the galaxy's structure are
visible because interstellar dust clouds that trace its disc are silhouetted from behind by light from the
galaxy's bright, smooth central bulge.
The strong warping of the disc indicates that ESO 510-G13 has recently collided with a nearby
galaxy and is in the process of swallowing it. Gravitational forces distort galaxies as their stars, gas, and
dust merge over millions of years. When the disturbances die out, ESO 510-G13 will be a single galaxy.
The galaxy's outer regions, especially on the right side of the image, show dark dust and bright
clouds of blue stars. This indicates that hot, young stars are forming in the twisted disc. Astronomers
believe star formation may be triggered when galaxies collide and their interstellar clouds are compressed.
The Hubble Heritage Team used WFPC2 to observe ESO 510-G13 in April 2001. Pictures obtained
through blue, green, and red filters were combined to make this color-composite image, which emphasizes
the contrast between the dusty spiral arms, the bright bulge, and the blue star-forming regions. Additional
information about the Hubble Space Telescope is online at http://www.stsci.edu. More information about
the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 is at http://wfpc2.jpl.nasa.gov.
The Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md., manages space operations for Hubble for
NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The institute is operated by the Association of
Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Md. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European
Space Agency. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.