Hubble spots a very bright contortionist

Jun 17, 2013
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

(Phys.org) —The contorted object captured by Hubble in this picture is IRAS 22491-1808, also known as the South America Galaxy. It is an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) that emits a huge amount of light at infrared wavelengths. The reason for this intense infrared emission lies in an episode of strong star formation activity, which was set off by a collision between two interacting galaxies.

In this image, the twisted shape hides a number of features. In the central region, which is very complex and disturbed, scientists have been able to distinguish two nuclei, remains of the two different galaxies that are currently colliding to form a new one. IRAS 22491-1808 is among the most luminous of these types of galaxies, and is considered to be mid-way through its merging stage.

The center of this appealing object also shows several -forming knots which, as seen in the picture, actually outshine the nuclei in . To pick out the two merging nuclei in IRAS 22491-1808, scientists have had to observe it in , where they are more distinct.

Other traces of the galactic collision are the three very noticeable tails in the image—two linear and one circular. The tail extending towards the bottom of the image from the main body exhibits a red clump of star formation at its base.

Explore further: Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets

Related Stories

Hubble tells a tale of galactic collisions

May 13, 2013

(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. ...

Modeling galaxy mergers

Jun 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Astronomers think that many galaxies, including our own Milky Way, have undergone similar collisions during their lifetimes. Although galaxy collisions are important and common, what happens ...

Image: Hubble sees a swirl of star formation

May 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —This beautiful, glittering swirl is named, rather un-poetically, J125013.50+073441.5. A glowing haze of material seems to engulf the galaxy, stretching out into space in different directions ...

Twists and turns in interacting galaxies

Oct 08, 2012

(Phys.org)—Almost thirty years ago the Infrared Astronomy Satellite, IRAS, discovered that the universe contained many fabulously luminous galaxies, some of them more than a thousand times brighter than ...

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 digs up galactic glow worm

Mar 25, 2013

(Phys.org) —This charming and bright galaxy, known as IRAS 23436+5257, was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It is located in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia, which is named after ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers see pebbles poised to make planets

22 hours ago

A team of astronomers led from St Andrews and Manchester universities today (6 July) announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a very young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought ...

Small cosmic 'fish' points to big haul for SKA Pathfinder

23 hours ago

A wisp of cosmic radio waves, emitted before our solar system was born, shows that a new radio telescope will be able to detect galaxies other telescopes can't. The work, led by Dr James Allison of the Commonwealth ...

Gaia produces stellar density map of the Milky Way

23 hours ago

This image, based on housekeeping data from ESA's Gaia satellite, is no ordinary depiction of the heavens. While the image portrays the outline of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, and of its neighbouring Magellanic ...

Hubble view: Wolf-Rayet stars, intense and short-lived

Jul 03, 2015

This NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope picture shows a galaxy named SBS 1415+437 (also called SDSS CGB 12067.1), located about 45 million light-years from Earth. SBS 1415+437 is a Wolf-Rayet ...

NASA image: Stellar sparklers that last

Jul 03, 2015

While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.