See Rare Photo of Two Galaxies Colliding Snapped by Repaired Hubble Telescope

Scientists have used the Hubble Space Telescope to spot a pair of colliding galaxies just days after the iconic observatory was repaired.

Scientists managed to bring Hubble out of safe mode last week after it experienced a sudden problem with one of its onboard computers on June 13.

The computer issue meant that a number of Hubble's science instruments shut off automatically, putting the telescope into an inactive state while engineers worked to find out what had happened.

The telescope's scientific instruments were returned to operation on July 15 and Hubble began making observations once again just two days later.

NASA has released two clear black-and-white images the telescope has taken since then of what it has called two "peculiar" galaxy structures that are mind-bogglingly far away from Earth.

Hubble's back! 🎉

After the Hubble team successfully turned on backup hardware aboard the telescope, the observatory got back to work over the weekend and took these galaxy snapshots.

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— Hubble (@NASAHubble) July 19, 2021

One, named ARP-MADORE2115-273, consists of two galaxies that are colliding with one another nearly 300 million light years away.

The Hubble image, described as a "rare example of an interacting galaxy pair" revealed to scientists that the collision is far more complex than previously thought and is leaving behind a "rich network of stars and dusty gas," according to a statement on NASA's Hubblesite.

The other image shows the unusual galaxy ARP-MADORE0002-503, which has three vastly extended spiral arms while most galaxies have an even number.

The length of the arms mean the galaxy has a radius of 163,000 light years, three times bigger than our own Milky Way Galaxy. It is 490 million light years away.

The Hubble Space Telescope is an observatory that was launched into space in 1990. The bus-sized telescope orbits the Earth about 340 miles above its surface.

Scientists use it to peer into deep space, as well as into our own solar system.

Fixing Hubble's recent computer error proved to be a meticulous procedure. Since the observatory was built in the 1980s, the engineers had to work with ex-Hubble staff who returned to support the current efforts with their knowledge of the telescope's inner workings.

The telescope was eventually fixed after staff managed to switch the problematic units over to backup hardware—a lengthy procedure involving 15 hours of remote commanding from the ground.

Several components had to be switched on that had never been switched on in space before, Jim Jeletic, Hubble's deputy project manager at Goddard, said in a NASA statement.

He said: "The team meticulously planned and tested every small step on the ground to make sure they got it right."

Julianne Dalcanton, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle who led the project that obtained the photographs of the two unusual galaxies, said in a Hubblesite statement: "I'll confess to having had a few nervous moments during Hubble's shutdown, but I also had faith in NASA's amazing engineers and technicians.

"Everyone is incredibly grateful, and we're excited to get back to science!"

Hubble telescope
A NASA photo shows the Hubble telescope drifting through space, taken from the space shuttle Discovery in 1997. Scientists have used it to spot a pair of colliding galaxies. Getty / NASA