Arp 302 (VV340) is a textbook example of an early stage merging galaxy pair. It is located in the constellation Bootes and is approximately 450 million light-years from the Earth. Due to the alignment of the two galaxies, Arp 302 is referred to as The Cosmic Exclamation Mark. The edge on galaxy is designated as VV 340 North and the face on lower galaxy is designated as VV 340 South. These galaxies radiate heavily in the infrared and therefore have been classified as Luminous Infrared Galaxies. The northern galaxy shows evidence of a rapidly growing super-massive black hole that is heavily obscured by dust and gas. In addition to infrared radiation, the face-on southern galaxy also radiates in the ultraviolet and short optical wavelengths leading to the conclusion it is experiencing a higher level of star formation than the northern galaxy.
The image above was assembled with data obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive. Two filtered images were used for the red and blue channels. These were imaged using filters of F814W for red, F435W for blue. An image consisting of a combination of all available filters was used for the green and luminance channels. This image is classified in the Hubble Legacy Archive as a detection, or white light, image. The color image was created as a standard LRGB image.
1Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and obtained from the Hubble Legacy Archive, which is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI/NASA), the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF/ESA) and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC/NRC/CSA).