Cosmic butterfly: this is the fascinating image formed by a collision of two galaxies

A new image captured by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii reveals a pair of interacting spiral galaxies, NGC 4568 and NGC 4567, as they begin to collide and merge, creating the illusion of a butterfly of stars.

The spectacularity that the Universe day by day with the billions of celestial bodies that inhabit it, they amaze scientists and the population in general. In the astronomical Picture Of The Day, that was confirmed, when a terrestrial telescope managed to photograph the collision of two huge spiral galaxies located about 60 million light years from Tierrain the Virgo Cumulus, that in their fusion manage to form the figure of a beautiful cosmic butterfly.

Astronomers at the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii have released this stunning image represents the early stages of one galactic mergerone of the most spectacular events of the universe, and shows the two galaxies NGC 4568 and NGC 4567, linked by their mutual gravitational field. The respective centers of these star fields are still about 20,000 light-years apart, about three-quarters of the distance between Earth and the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The Gemini North Telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii, which captured the image, is one of two telescopes of the Gemini International Observatory, a program of NSF's NOIRLab, USA.
The Gemini North Telescope on Maunakea in Hawaii, which captured the image, is one of two telescopes of the Gemini International Observatory, a program of NSF’s NOIRLab, USA.

The original spiral shapes of both galaxies are still clear in the image, but as merging proceeds, these arm-like patterns will change and be destroyed. Galaxies will lose their spiral structures as their gravitational forces at war trigger intense outbursts of star formation to finally end up fused into a new elliptical galaxy in about 500 million years, according to a communiqué NOIRLab, which operates the Gemini North telescope.

The new image offers scientists a “advancement” of what will happen in a few 5 billion years when our galaxy, the Milky Way, collision with its closest large neighbor, the andromeda galaxy. That clash will give each galaxy a huge makeover, as well as possibly throwing the sun and solar system into a different region of the resulting galaxy.

Over millions of years, as the galaxies rotate around each other in tighter and tighter loops, jets of gas and stars will be drawn from each galaxy. By combining computer simulations with observations of galactic mergers like that of NGC 4568 and NGC 4567, researchers have found that mergers between galaxies form smooth, featureless elliptical galaxies. At this point, the fuel for star formation (cold, dense clouds of gas and dust) will have been exhausted or expelled. of what remains of the parent galaxies, ending the period of rapid star birth.

These galaxies are entangled by their mutual gravitational field and will eventually combine to form a single elliptical galaxy in around 500 million years.
These galaxies are entangled by their mutual gravitational field and will eventually combine to form a single elliptical galaxy in around 500 million years.

This means that At the end of the fusion process, it is likely that NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 create a galaxy that resembles its older neighbor, Messier 89, also located in the Virgo Cluster. This ancient galaxy now has only minimal star formation and is composed of older, low-mass stars and ancient, closely-knit pockets of tens of thousands to millions of stars called globular clusters.

The Gemini North imagewhich was created from data collected in 2020, also shows a supernova, the brilliant cosmic explosion caused by the death of a massive star. The supernova, named SN 2020fqvwas first observed in 2020 and appears in the image as a bright spot located in the middle from one of the spiral arms of NGC 4568, the galaxy at the bottom of the image.

Las aftermath of the explosion were detected initially for the Hubble Space Telescope and provided astronomers with a front row seat for the final moments of a star. Researchers are using observations like these to create an early warning system for other stars on the verge of going supernova.

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