NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning image of a “space triangle” where two galaxies collide, resulting in a stellar tsunami.
Known collectively as Arp 143, the duo consists of the bright and distorted star-forming galaxy NGC 2445 and the dimmer galaxy NGC 24444.
NGC 2445 has been distorted into a triangular shape, with a burst of bright lights as stars form at high speed from material jarred by the collision.
US-based astronomers from the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York and the University of Washington in Seattle analyzed images taken by a 32-year-old observatory in low Earth orbit.
They explained that the galaxies passed through each other and ignited a firestorm of unique shape as thousands of stars came to life.
The galaxy is steeped in stargazing because it is rich in gas, the fuel from which stars form, but it has yet to elude partner NGC 2444’s gravitational pull and is preparing for a cosmic tug-of-war that NGC 2444 appears to be winning.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning image of the “Space Triangle” where two galaxies collide and trigger a stellar tsunami.
Dancing galaxies were found in a catalog compiled by astronomer Halton Arp in 1966, consisting of 338 interacting eccentric galaxies.
These strange galaxies were thought to be excellent laboratories for studying the physical processes that distort normal-looking elliptical and spiral galaxies.
He was one of the first to suggest that galactic encounters could form stars in explosions.
One of the Arp galaxies that is exploding with new stars is Arp 143, captured in these new Hubble Space Telescope images.
“The simulation shows that direct collisions between two galaxies are one way to form rings of new stars,” said astronomer Julian Dalcanton.
Therefore, star-forming rings are not uncommon. The strange thing about this system, however, is that it is a star formation triangle.
Part of the reason for this shape is that these galaxies are still very close together, and that NGC 2444 is still gravitationally attached to the other galaxy.
NGC 2444 may also contain an invisible halo of hot gas that could help pull NGC 2445’s gas away from its core. So they are not quite free from each other and their unusual interaction distorts the ring in this triangle.
NGC 2445 has been distorted into a triangular shape, with a burst of bright lights as stars form at high speed from material jarred by the collision. Large field width found for region Arp 143
The faintness of the two galaxies is also responsible for pulling “rope-like filaments of gas” away from their partner, fueling the stream of young blue stars that appear to form a bridge between the two galaxies.
These flows are among the first in what appeared to be a wave of star formation that began at the edge of NGC 2445 and continued inland as the two collided.
The team behind the study estimates that the streamers were born 50 to 100 million years ago and were left in the triangular region where NGC 2445 continues to slowly retreat from NGC 2444.
According to the team, stars no older than 1 to 2 million years are forming near the center of NGC 2445.
Hubble is so sharp that it is able to resolve a few individual stars within the image, although most of the light blue masses are star clusters. Pink dots are young, giant star clusters still covered in dust and gas.
Although most events take place in NGC 2445, that doesn’t mean the other half of the interacting pair survived unscathed. Gravitational force has stretched NGC 2444 into a strange shape.
The galaxy contains old stars and no new star birth because it lost its gas long ago, long before this galactic encounter.
This is a close-up example of the types of interactions that took place a long time ago. “It’s a great sandbox for understanding star formation and galaxy interactions,” said Elena Sabi of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is still operational and has made more than 1.5 million observations since its mission began in 1990.
The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889.
He is arguably most famous for his discovery that the universe is expanding and the speed at which it is occurring – he has now coined the Hubble constant.
The Hubble Telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889 (pictured)
Since the start of its mission in 1990, Hubble has made more than 1.5 million observations and contributed to the publication of approximately 18,000 scientific papers.
It orbits the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour (27,300 kilometers per hour) in low Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 miles.
Hubble has a guidance accuracy of 0.007 arcseconds, which is equivalent to the ability to direct a laser beam aimed at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s head at a coin about 200 miles away.
The Hubble Telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, who was responsible for inventing the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all time.
Hubble’s Basic Mirror is 2.4 meters (7 ft, 10.5 in) wide and has an overall length of 13.3 meters (43.5 ft) — the length of a large school bus.
The launch and release of Hubble in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since the Galileo telescope.
With five service missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place in it has never been the same.