Colliding Galaxies Create A Stunning Eye-Shaped Feature

Posted: Nov 6 2016, 4:27am CST | by , Updated: Nov 7 2016, 8:19pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Colliding Galaxies Create a Stunning Eye-Shaped Feature
Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope
 

When two spiral galaxies smashed into each other, they caused the 'tsuanami' of stars to swirl and formed a dazzling eyelid feature.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has captured stunning images of two colliding galaxies that stirred the ‘tsunami’ of stars and gases and formed a dazzling eye-shaped feature in space.

Astronomers were swinging ALMA in the direction of a constellation in southern celestial hemisphere, known as Canis Major when they discovered a spiral galaxy named IC 2163 crashing midway through another spiral galaxy called NGC 2207 and creating a rare eyelid-like star formation. Both the colliding galaxies are located approximately 114 million light years from Earth.

“Although galaxy collisions of this type are not uncommon, only a few galaxies with eye-like, or ocular, structures are known to exist.” Lead author and astronomer Michele Kaufman said in a statement.

"Galactic eyelids last only a few tens of millions of years, which is incredibly brief in the lifespan of a galaxy. Finding one in such a newly formed state gives us an exceptional opportunity to study what happens when one galaxy grazes another.”

Using ALMA’s remarkable sensitivity, researchers have provided a detailed view of the motion of carbon monoxide gas swirling in the galaxies. The gas is shown in orange color while blue color represents both the interacting galaxies in the image. The presence of carbon monoxide also indicates that the galactic collision will trigger star forming process in the eyelid feature of the galaxies.

“Not only do we find a rapid deceleration of the gas as it moves from the outer to the inner edge of the eyelids, but we also measure that the more rapidly it decelerates, the denser the molecular gas becomes,” said Kaufman. 

“This direct measurement of compression shows how the encounter between the two galaxies drives gas to pile up, spawn new star clusters and form these dazzling eyelid features.”

Such eyelid-like features usually evolve when galaxies interact in a specific manner and this has also been confirmed by computer models. Researchers are still studying the galaxy pair to better understand the differences between the star clusters in the eyelids and those elsewhere in the galaxies. 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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