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

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

15 hours ago

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

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...