This new Hubble image shows spiral galaxy ESO 137-001, framed against a bright background as it moves through the heart of galaxy cluster Abell 3627.
This image not only captures the galaxy and its backdrop in stunning detail, but also something more dramatic – intense blue streaks streaming outwards from the galaxy, seen shining brightly in ultraviolet light.
These streaks are in fact hot, wispy streams of gas that are being torn away from the galaxy by its surroundings as it moves through space. This violent galactic disrobing is due to a process known as ram pressure stripping – a drag force felt by an object moving through a fluid.
Image credit: NASA, ESA. Acknowledgements: Ming Sun (UAH), and Serge Meunier
Note: For more information, see Spiral Galaxy Spills Blood and Guts, and ESO 137-001: Life Is Too Fast, Too Furious for This Runaway Galaxy. The "intense blue streaks" mentioned in the above article are much more apparent in the composite image produced by the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory; click on the second link to see that image.