Markarian 273 is a galaxy with a bizarre structure. The Hubble image shows an intricate central region and a striking tail that extends diagonally towards the bottom-right of the image. The tail is about 130 thousand light-years long and is strongly indicative of a merger between two galaxies. Markarian 273 has an intense region of starburst, where 60 solar masses of new stars are born each year. Near-infrared observations reveal a nucleus with two components. Markarian 273 is one of the most luminous galaxies when observed in the infrared, and is located 500 million light-years away from Earth.
This image is part of a large collection of 59 images of merging galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and released on the occasion of its 18th anniversary on 24 April 2008.