These are galaxies. Like our galaxy. If you look up in a very dark night and see that sweep of the Milky Way across the sky, that's our galaxy viewed from the outer buroughs where we live. Think Queens without the public transportation. Now imagine someone like us, at the outer edges of one of those galaxies, looking back at us from a few thousand light years away.
Is your head exploding yet?
Here's how the Times reports, in a calm and rational non-exploding manner, what we're seeing:
A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. This photo of Stephan's Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3. Stephan's Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. The image, taken in visible and infrared light, showcases the camera's broad wavelength range.
Uh huh, that pretty blue galaxy is seven times closer than the others which means that this camera has an awesome depth of field.
If the Hubble telescope isn't one of the greatest things we've ever sent into space then I'll eat one of Scarlett Johansson's underthings.
Damn. Really. Just go look.