Hubble has produced some spectacular images of space, but few of them are as interesting as the one it has recently taken of two galaxies colliding into each other, known amongst enthusiasts as "The Penguin." The galaxies get their name from their conjoined, uncanny resemblance to a penguin or some type of bird standing upright, complete with a bright eye and long beak.
Officially called Arp 142, The Penguin is the result of two galaxies moving too near to each other, something that happens often enough. It is made of galaxies NGC 2937 and NGC 2936, the latter of which remains in what we view as the eye of the penguin, somehow making the phenomenon more spectacular. The second galaxy is the white oval beneath it, which some say looks like an egg.
NGC 2936 was a spiral galaxy, and its arms are what makes up the body of the apparent bird, with the rest of them bunching up into a cluster of sorts near its core. This is because one of two possible outcomes happened as the two galaxies drifted near each other - the spiral galaxy was "torn apart," rather than merging with the other galaxy.
Because of their relatively close distance, both galaxies are now in a state of havoc, with matter from each being swapped with the other. Arp 142 was first recorded in the mid sixties by the man from whom its name originates, Halton Arp. He made the discovery while looking for galaxies with unusual shapes, not realizing at the time that many of them were more than one galaxy battling in the same space.
As for the image itself, it is the by-product of the Hubble Space Telescope, which took it by means of both infrared and visible light spectrums. The different light-based images were then merged together to help form the final image. Visible above the penguin are a couple other galaxies, which aren't thought to be involved in the Arp's slow evolution.
SOURCE: Space Telescope