In my opinion, this story is an example of an X-ray image resulting in the wrong interpretation of the optical image.
The headline is sensational: ' black holes on a collision course'
Everything takes a long time on the distance scale of galaxies.
After one notes the references to black holes, the interpretation of this picture is interesting from an EUT viewpoint.
Before proceeding: in EUT, the M87 AGN, an X-ray source, is known to be a plasmoid.
This galaxy is named: SDSS J084905.51+111447.2
The Chandra story has the top image in optical, from the Large Binocular Telescope, and the bottom image in X-ray from the Chandra Observatory.
The optical image has much interesting detail while the X-ray image is essentially one bright source and two fainter. The combination of images relates the locations of these sources.
My initial impression of the optical image (you might see more or less detail):
The galaxy core appears to have a single spiral arm, in an arc to the right and down.
There is a bright optical source with a diffused V-shaped faint cloud with the bright source (Pt2) at the base of its 'V' cloud.This cloud is probably part of the arm.
The core and this point form one side of a triangle. The other side of this triangle extends from the core (Pt1) to another bright point source (Pt3). This line transitions to a faint arc apparently terminating at the other bright point (Pt2).
Below the core there is fainter optical source (Pt4) that appears to be within a faint inner spiral arm (a 3rd arm) from the core.
My interpretation is this is a single spiral galaxy with what could be three spiral arms: one uncoiling to the lower right, a second as an inner ring around the core, and a third in almost a loop, with its bottom near the long arm, either intersecting, or above or below that arm. As the arc might end at a bright point (Pt3), the perspective is difficult. However all these features are connected to the core implying this is a single galaxy. The spiral arms are not 'typical.'
The X-ray image shows two dimmer X-ray sources outside the brightest one at the core. When comparing optical to X-ray these are apparently associated with the arms.
A spiral galaxy like the Milky Way has a Z-pinch with the pair of birkelund currents as the X-ray source in synchrotron radiation.
It is reasonable to assume our spiral core is like this spiral core.
There are two X-ray sources within two spiral arms. I propose these two points outside the core are plasmoids. Both are bright in X-ray. The one at a 'V' cloud appears to be the focus of brighter activity in the spiral arm.
There is no 'collision course' in this description. That is in the Chandra headline.
Where did that sensational phrase come from?
There is a related story online about this galaxy, titled
Astronomers discover eight buried dual AGN candidates
That pys-org story puts an overlay on this X-ray image and proposes the three lobes in the images are 3 galaxies.
That story also makes the leap from 3 to 8 objects.
That story includes a small X-ray image in black & white with X-ray intensity lines.
In these contours they count 8 individual X-ray sources unlike only 3 shown in the Chandra image.
In modern cosmology there is a frequently applied assumption: an X-ray point source is always a black hole with an accretion disk. This combination is also assumed to be an AGN.
All of these X-ray sources are assumed to be black holes. That mistake has consequences.
In this scenario the Galaxy 1 is the main core, Galaxy 2 is Pt2 and that arm below it.
Galaxy 3 is Pt3 and the faint arc extending through it.
Regardless of which story is referenced astronomers see a number of X-ray sources outside the core.
In this picture, each source is either a galaxy or a galaxy core, an AGN.
The problem is this shows many AGN in close proximity but there should be only one AGN per galaxy.
The solution is these are colliding galaxies.
Perhaps I am reading too much into two images of the same galaxy.
I prefer the sedate explanation of a spiral galaxy with atypical spiral arms over the sensational alternative of some number of collisions of black holes.