The pair, located about 160 million light-years away from Earth, have already collided at least once, astronomers say. The stars in each of the galaxies are so far apart that any collisions between stars are very unlikely. However, the collision may have caused turbulent motions in the galaxies’ gases and triggered new bursts of star formation.
During the collision, the galaxies pull on each other gravitationally and warp each others’ shapes. And because of that shape, this galaxy pair has been nicknamed the “Heron Galaxy.” The larger of the two galaxies is said to represent the bird’s body, and the smaller galaxy its head and beak.