A galaxy tears the spiral arms off its neighbor

Sometimes galaxies don't just smash into each other — sometimes they just tear each other apart with their gravitational forces. Check out this new Hubble image of NGC 1911 in the Coma Cluster, being torn asunder by neighboring galaxies.

Here's what the Hubble Space Telescope's site says about this breathtaking image:

NGC 4911 and other spirals near the center of the cluster are being transformed by the gravitational tug of their neighbors. In the case of NGC 4911, wispy arcs of the galaxy's outer spiral arms are being pulled and distorted by forces from a companion galaxy (NGC 4911A), to the upper right. The resultant stripped material will eventually be dispersed throughout the core of the Coma Cluster, where it will fuel the intergalactic populations of stars and star clusters.

The Coma Cluster is home to almost 1,000 galaxies, making it one of the densest collections of galaxies in the nearby universe. It continues to transform galaxies at the present epoch, due to the interactions of close-proximity galaxy systems within the dense cluster. Vigorous star formation is triggered in such collisions.

You can download ultra high res versions of this image (up to 15 MB) at the link. [Hubble Site]