Image: Hubble sees starbursts in the wake of a fleeting romance

May 19, 2014
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Kathy van Pelt

(Phys.org) —This image from NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope shows galaxy NGC 4485 in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs). The galaxy is irregular in shape, but it hasn't always been so. Part of NGC 4485 has been dragged towards a second galaxy, named NGC 4490—which lies out of frame to the bottom right of this image.

Between them, these two make up a called Arp 269. Their interactions have warped them both, turning them from spiral galaxies into irregular ones. NGC 4485 is the smaller galaxy in this pair, which provides a fantastic real-world example for astronomers to compare to their computer models of galactic collisions.

The most intense interaction between these two galaxies is all but over; they have made their closest approach and are now separating. The trail of bright stars and knotty orange clumps that we see here extending out from NGC 4485 is all that connects them—a trail that spans some 24 000 light-years.

Many of the stars in this connecting trail could never have existed without the galaxies' fleeting romance. When galaxies interact hydrogen gas is shared between them, triggering intense bursts of star formation. The orange knots of light in this image are examples of such regions, clouded with gas and dust.

Explore further: Image: Hubble peers at the heart of NGC 5793

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Hubble peers at the heart of NGC 5793

Mar 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —This new Hubble image is centered on NGC 5793, a spiral galaxy over 150 million light-years away in the constellation of Libra. This galaxy has two particularly striking features: a beautiful ...

NASA's Hubble sees a stranger in the crowd

Jul 22, 2013

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is the largest of the Zodiac constellations, and the second largest overall after Hydra (The Water Snake). Its most appealing feature, however, is the sheer number ...

Image: Hubble sees a spiral home to exploding stars

Apr 09, 2014

(Phys.org) —In this  Hubble image, we can see an almost face-on view of the galaxy NGC 1084. At first glance, this galaxy is pretty unoriginal. Like the majority of galaxies that we observe it is a spiral ...

Hubble view of a special spiral galaxy

Oct 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —The image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows part of NGC 3621, an unusual spiral galaxy located over 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Water ...

Hubble spots galaxies in close encounter

Jun 20, 2013

(Phys.org) —The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced this vivid image of a pair of interacting galaxies known as Arp 142. When two galaxies stray too close to each other they begin to interact, ...

Recommended for you

The entropy of black holes

Sep 12, 2014

Yesterday I talked about black hole thermodynamics, specifically how you can write the laws of thermodynamics as laws about black holes. Central to the idea of thermodynamics is the property of entropy, which c ...

Modified theory of dark matter

Sep 12, 2014

Dark matter is an aspect of the universe we still don't fully understand. We have lots of evidence pointing to its existence (as I outlined in a series of posts a while back), and the best evidence we have point ...

Gaia discovers its first supernova

Sep 12, 2014

(Phys.org) —While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered its first stellar explosion in another galaxy far, far away.

Astronomers unveil secrets of giant elliptical galaxies

Sep 12, 2014

New findings of how giant elliptical galaxies move have been discovered by an international team of astronomers using the newly installed Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) at the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) ...

Exploring the cosmic X-ray background

Sep 12, 2014

You are likely familiar with the cosmic microwave background. This background is a thermal remnant of the big bang. Because of the expansion of the universe, this remnant energy has a temperature of about ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mr Som-o
not rated yet May 20, 2014
".... the galaxies' fleeting romance.' I wish these writers would stop attributing human characteristics to scientific phenomena.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet May 20, 2014
".... the galaxies' fleeting romance.' I wish these writers would stop attributing human characteristics to scientific phenomena.

LOL. It IS rather funny...