Published On: Fri, May 17th, 2019

Hubble Observes Creative Destruction as Galaxies Collide

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has re-photographed the collision zone between the extraordinary galaxy NGC 4485 and its giant galactic neighbor, 30 million light-years from Earth

NGC 4485 has been involved in a dramatic gravitational interplay with its larger galactic neighbor NGC 4490 — out of frame to the bottom right in this image. This ruined the original, ordered spiral structure of the galaxy and transformed it into an irregular one. The interaction also created a stream of material about 25 000 light-years long, connecting the two galaxies. The stream, visible to the right of the galaxy is made up of bright knots and huge pockets of gassy regions, as well as enormous regions of star formation in which young, massive, blue stars are born. Below NGC 4485 one can see a bright, orange background galaxy: CXOU J123033.6+414057. This galaxy is the source of X-ray radiation studied by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Its distance from Earth is about 850 million light-years.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has re-photographed the collision zone between the extraordinary galaxy NGC 4485 and its giant galactic neighbor.
The interconnect of the two galaxies, 30 million light-years from Earth, caused the deformation of the two. The gravity of the Great Galaxy created a chaos stream of stars, gas, and dust.

At this point, the two galaxies begin to move away from each other in a destructive dance. The gravitational force between them continues to distort each of them while creating conditions for vast and unstable areas.

This video zooms in on the irregular galaxy NGC 4485, about 30 million light-years away. It starts with a view of the night sky focused on the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), as seen from the ground. It then zooms through observations from the Digitized Sky Survey 2, and ends with a view of the galaxy obtained with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

During the zoom also the neighboring galaxy, NGC 4490 becomes visible. The gravitational pull of this galaxy is responsible for the irregular shape of NGC 4485 and also caused the intense star formation in the galaxy, as well as the bright stream of gas and stars emerging from it. Credit: ESA/Hubble, NASA, Davide De Martin

This galactic collision created a flow of matter over 25,000 light-years, connecting the two galaxies. This current consists of clusters of light and large pockets of gas, as well as vast areas of star formation in which young, massive, and blue stars are born. However, the lives of these stars are short. They end quickly and end their lives with dramatic explosions.

Although such events seem ultimately destructive, they also enrich the cosmic environment with heavier elements and provide new material to create a new generation of stars.

The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 appearance is the result of a close encounter with another galaxy — NGC 4490. It shows a stream of gas and stars emerging from the collision area. The flow is connecting both galaxies, which are currently moving away from each other, and is made up of bright regions and large pockets of gas, as well as enormous areas of star formation in which young, massive, blue stars are born. Credit: ESA/Hubble

 

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