Hubble tells a tale of galactic collisions

May 13, 2013
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: Luca Limatola

(Phys.org) —When we look into the distant cosmos, the great majority of the objects we see are galaxies: immense gatherings of stars, planets, gas, dust, and dark matter, showing up in all kind of shapes. This Hubble picture registers several, but the galaxy catalogued as 2MASX J05210136-2521450 stands out at a glance due to its interesting shape.

This object is an ultraluminous infrared galaxy which emits a tremendous amount of light at . Scientists connect this to formation activity, triggered by a collision between two .

The merging process has left its signs: 2MASX J05210136-2521450 presents a single, bright nucleus and a spectacular outer structure that consists of a one-sided extension of the inner arms, with a tidal tail heading in the opposite direction, formed from material ripped out from the merging galaxies by gravitational forces.

The image is a combination of exposures taken by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, using near-infrared and visible light.

Explore further: Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Related Stories

Hubble sees cosmic "flying V" of merging galaxies

Feb 18, 2013

This large "flying V" is actually two distinct objects—a pair of interacting galaxies known as IC 2184. Both the galaxies are seen almost edge-on in the large, faint northern constellation of Camelopardalis ...

Hubble catches the moment the lights went out

Feb 06, 2013

(Phys.org)—The further away you look, the further back in time you see. Astronomers use this fact to study the evolution of the Universe by looking at nearby and more distant galaxies and comparing their ...

Hubble focuses on 'the great attractor'

Jan 23, 2013

(Phys.org)—A busy patch of space has been captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Scattered with many nearby stars, the field also has numerous galaxies in the background.

Gravitational telescope creates space invader mirage

Mar 05, 2013

(Phys.org)—The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most powerful available to astronomers, but sometimes it too needs a helping hand. This comes in the form of Einstein's general theory of relativity, ...

A spiral galaxy in Hydra

Apr 09, 2012

(Phys.org) -- This image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows NGC 4980, a spiral galaxy in the southern constellation of Hydra. The shape of NGC 4980 appears slightly deformed, something which is ...

Hubble gazes on one ring to rule them all

Mar 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —Galaxies can take many forms—elliptical blobs, swirling spiral arms, bulges, and disks are all known components of the wide range of galaxies we have observed using telescopes like the NASA/ESA ...

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

12 hours ago

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

16 hours ago

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

19 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...