The unusual form seen here is the result of a cosmic collision with a smaller galaxy which plunged right through the heart of the larger and shot out the other side. As the smaller galaxy passed through the middle it set up gravitational ripples that disrupted the clouds of gas and triggered the formation of new stars whose radiation then lit up the remaining gas.

Source: via Buzzfeed

Category: Science, Weekend

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7 Responses to “Cosmic Collision”

  1. streeteye says:

    Colliding galaxies FTW

    should get interesting when our own galaxy and Andromeda are scheduled to collide in 3 billion years or so

  2. Jojo says:

    Puny humans….

  3. Clif Brown says:

    Colliding galaxies would seem impossible from what I’ve heard of the Big Bang theory where all galaxies are moving away from each other like raisins in a cake being baked. Obviously, collisions occur. How can that be?

  4. Jojo says:

    @Clif Brown – I believe everything is not traveling at the same speed in the universe. So faster moving items catch up with slower moving ones and then WHAM-BOOEY! :)

  5. Clif Brown says:

    JoJo – according to what astronomers say, the further away galaxies are from us, the faster they are moving away from us. All I can figure is that within our local group of galaxies (with over 50 members) there is an exception to this rule of galactic dispersion. I submitted a question about this at Ask an Expert.

  6. Jojo says:

    @Clif – Your question is quite common. A web search would provide a variety of articles to check.

    Clearly I was also wrong with that speed guess, as what is really happening is a battle between the expanding universe and localized gravity, in which gravity almost always wins out.

  7. Clif Brown says:

    You hit the nail on the head JoJo. Here’s the response I got to my question…

    Hi Clif,
    Yes, the Hubble constant of space expanding (about 71 Km per second or about 42 miles per second, PER MEGAPARSEC), is in effect everywhere. A megaparsec is equal to 3.2 million light years and most galaxy cluster members are within about 3 – 10 million light years of each other.
    So gravity in the galactic cluster (and therefore collision closure speed)… easily “over-rides” the Hubble spacial expansion rate at those “very short” distances. In the case of M-31 and Milky Way, the closure speed is something like 180 miles per second, MINUS the ~40 miles per second of the spacial expansion at a distance of about 2.9 million light years (distance to Andromeda Galaxy). So this bottom line result equals a closure speed of about 140 miles per second for us and M-31. And that’s why we see many many galaxies in collision as their “closeness” to each other in a galaxy group, their combined massive gravity’s, easily over-rides the Hubble spacial expansion rate.

    At least that’s true today; since the spacial expansion is accelerating (1998 – a study of Type Ia supernovae), no one knows for sure what the distant future will hold. That’s why that instead of a future “Big Crunch” of all matter coming back together, today you read about the future “BIG RIP” as space expands faster and faster and faster… accelerating, and not decelerating. This led to the introduction of anti-gravity “dark energy” in our entire Universe, but that’s another story.
    Hope this helps, Tom