Rafi Letzter

Eleven billion years ago, a hot, active, galaxy that looked like an eye glared across space. Now, using data from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have captured a snapshot of its unblinking gaze.

This galaxy, R5519, is made up of a flat ring of stars, with a hole in the middle where astronomers believe another blob of stars punched through. Galaxies like this, known as “collisional ring galaxies,” turn up infrequently in the modern universe. But this is the first time astronomers have seen one so old and far away; at 11 billion light-years from our planet, its ancient light is only just reaching Earth.

A composite image made from multiple single-color Hubble Space Telescope images shows what the galaxy looks like from Earth.

A composite image made from multiple single-color Hubble Space Telescope images shows what the galaxy looks like from Earth. (Image credit: Tiantian Yuan/Hubble Space Telescope)

Related: The 15 weirdest galaxies in our universe



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