Top 24 Deep Space Pictures of 2011

Last week, Phil Plait posted his year-end gallery of the best pictures taken from space. Now you can see his picks for the best pictures of deep space, really deep, like these galaxies that are 300 million light years away.
Because they're big, sometimes galaxies get close together. Too close. Close enough that their gravity can affect each other, drawing out long arms of gas and stars, distorting each other into weird and beautiful shapes. It happens a lot.

Such is Arp 273, seen here in a Hubble image taken to celebrate the observatory's 20th anniversary in space. These two big galaxies passed each other in the recent past (like, a few million years ago). Both were probably normal enough before the encounter, but are now twisted and asymmetric.

See the other 23 images at Bad Astronomy. Link

(Image credit: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team)

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