NASA Spotlight: Colliding galaxies are in astronomical photo of the day

NASA Spotlight: Colliding galaxies are in astronomical photo of the day

The colliding galaxies of the Arp 274 system, in the constellation Virgo, are the highlight of the Astronomy Picture of the Day website this Monday (23). The group of galaxies spans approximately 200,000 light-years and is nearly 400 million light-years from Earth.

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Also called “NGC 5679”, this system is made up of three galaxies. The spiral shape of two of them appears to be intact, while the third galaxy, located on the left side of the photo, shows evidence of star formation.

See below:

It isn’t going through this process alone: ​​in addition to the galaxy on the left, the one on the right is also forming stars at full steam — this process is evident in the luminous areas of their arms. The largest galaxy in the system, located between the three, appears to be of the barred spiral type.

This name is given to spiral galaxies that have a bar-shaped structure at their centers, formed by stars. Bars are present in most spiral-type galaxies, and they tend to affect the motion of stars and the interstellar gas within them.

The collisions of galaxies

When two galaxies are heading towards a collision, the stars usually come through the process reasonably “unhurt”. This happens because galaxies are made up of a lot of empty space, and only a small part of it is occupied by stars.

That doesn’t mean, however, that there won’t be consequences for galaxies. During the collision, the gas and dust from both collide and one can tear the other apart due to gravity; it is also possible that their supermassive black holes undergo a merger.

In about 4.5 billion years, the Milky Way and Andromeda will experience a collision. As the stars of both are quite distant from each other, it is unlikely that they will collide — but some may end up “expelled” from “Androláctea”, the nickname given to the galaxy will result from the process.

Source: APOD