Arp 220, found in the constellation Serpens (the Serpent), is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) that shines brighter than more than 1 trillion suns, according to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).
The STScI says the collision of the two spiral galaxies that formed Arp 220 began 700 million years ago and sparked a colossal burst of star formation with about 200 massive star clusters residing inside the packed, dusty region that stretches about 5,000 light-years across.
That distance is about 5% of the entire Milky Way, the STScI added.
Previous observations showed about 100 supernova remnants in an area equal to less than 500 light-years. However, the STScI said NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope uncovered the cores of the parent galaxies 1,200 light-years apart.
Each of those cores, the STScI added, has a rotating, star-forming ring blasting out of the infrared light that can be seen in the newly released James Webb Space Telescope image.
The light creates diffraction spikes, the starburst feature in the photo.
On the outskirts of Arp 200, the Webb image shows faint tidal tails, which are materials drawn off the galaxies due to gravity and is represented in blue in the photo.
The organic material in the photo is represented in reddish-orange.