Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)
MCG+12-02-001 (MCG02-001 for short) is a pair of interacting galaxies located some 200 million light-years away from Earth in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia (the Seated Queen). The pair is receding from us at about 4706 kilometers per second.
The pair consists of a large galaxy at the top of the image, and a smaller galaxy that is resembling an erupting volcano at the bottom. The bright core of this galaxy emerges from the tip of the volcano. Both galaxies are significantly affected by the encounter, what can be seen in their unusual appearance. Clearly visible is also that the gravitational interaction has thrown stars, gas and dust in opposite directions.
MCG+12-02-001 is classified as a luminous infrared system, and radiates with more than a hundred billion times the luminosity of our Sun.
The image is taken on September 3, 2001 with the Wide Field Channel of the Advanced Camera for Surveys onboard the Hubble Space Telescope, and released on the occasion of its 18th anniversary on April 24, 2008.