Image: Colliding galaxies

Jul 02, 2010 By Jeff Harrison
Astrophotographer Adam Block captured this image with the telescope at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter showing two galaxies on a collision path.

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website has published an image taken from the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. The image, posted July 2, is that of the Keenan system of colliding galaxies and was collected during an Astronomer Night program at the observatory by Adam Block, who is also the observing programs coordinator at the SkyCenter.

"A fascinating aspect to this image is that it resembles the outcome of a computer simulation designed to demonstrate the result of galactic collisions," Block said.

"Long ago I was inspired by the work of John Dubinski and others on what are called galactic mergers. Dubinski created code that ran on a to simulate the merger of the , where we live, and our nearest large neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, to create Milkomeda," Block said.

The movie that Dubinski made, part of his GRAVITAS series, is sometimes used at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter's program. Block said, "There is a point in the simulation where the resulting pattern looks - to my eye - very similar to NGC 5216, the Keenan system (below)."

"Assuming that the physics are correct, it is remarkable that the universe is large enough to express examples of all potential possibilities. This lends credence to the idea that astrophysical computer simulations may be predictive," he said.

Block said the tidal stream that seems to connect the with their two counter-oriented tidal tails is represented well in the comparison. The pattern, he said, exists only briefly in the full simulation.

Explore further: Planet formation relied on sweeping up of small glassy beads, new model suggests

More information: antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/

Related Stories

'Cosmic fruit machine' matches collisions

Nov 24, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new website will give everyone the chance to contribute to science by playing a 'cosmic fruit machine' and compare images of colliding galaxies with millions of simulated images of galactic ...

Antennae Galaxies

May 19, 2008

This image of the Antennae galaxies is the sharpest yet of this merging pair of galaxies. During the course of the collision, billions of stars will be formed. The brightest and most compact of these star ...

Earth's final destiny

Aug 26, 2005

In the constellation of Pisces, some 100 million light-years from Earth, two galaxies are seen to collide - providing an eerie insight into the ultimate fate of our own planet when the Milky Way fatally merges ...

Colliding galaxies make love, not war

Oct 17, 2006

A new Hubble image of the Antennae galaxies is the sharpest yet of this merging pair of galaxies. As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. The ...

Recommended for you

White dwarf may have shredded passing planet

Apr 17, 2015

The destruction of a planet may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a team of astronomers has found evidence that this may have happened in an ancient cluster of stars at the edge of the Milky Way ...

Giant galaxies die from the inside out

Apr 16, 2015

A major astrophysical mystery has centred on how massive, quiescent elliptical galaxies, common in the modern Universe, quenched their once furious rates of star formation. Such colossal galaxies, often also ...

Protosuns teeming with prebiotic molecules

Apr 16, 2015

Complex organic molecules such as formamide, from which sugars, amino acids and even nucleic acids essential for life can be made, already appear in the regions where stars similar to our Sun are born. Astrophysicists ...

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.