An international team of astronomers, with strong involvement from the Department of Astronomy at Stockholm University, has recently studied fourteen galaxies using several instruments, including the Hubble Space Telescope. The beautiful galaxy seen below is part of this sample. Never before studied in this level of detail, it goes by the rather unimaginative name of J082354.96+280621.6. The peculiar shape of the galaxy is probably the result of a collision or close encounter with another galaxy.

The Lyman-alpha galaxy J082354.96+280621.6
ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Hayes

The purpose of the study is to find out more about how so-called Lyman-alpha radiation interacts with gas and dust inside galaxies. Lyman-alpha is a form of ultra-violet light, with a wavelength of 121.6 nm, that is produced when hydrogen gas in a galaxy is illuminated by energetic light from hot, new-born stars. Because of its usefulness in discovering distant galaxies and measuring their distances, Lyman-alpha radiation is crucial in charting the history of the first stars and galaxies in the Universe.

More information and pretty pictures can be found here and here.