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: Transiting exoplanet with longest known year

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Transiting exoplanet with longest known year

15 hours ago

Astronomers have discovered a transiting exoplanet with the longest known year. Kepler-421b circles its star once every 704 days. In comparison, Mars orbits our Sun once every 780 days. Most of the 1,800-plus ...

Mysterious dance of dwarfs may force a cosmic rethink

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The discovery that many small galaxies throughout the universe do not 'swarm' around larger ones like bees do but 'dance' in orderly disc-shaped orbits is a challenge to our understanding of ...

Is our solar system weird?

Jul 18, 2014

Is our Solar System normal? Or is it weird? How does the Solar System fit within the strange star systems we've discovered in the Milky Way so far?

Upgraded telescope opens window to universe

Jul 18, 2014

An international team of astrophysicists including University of Adelaide researchers have announced the successful detection of pulsed gamma rays from the neutron star, the Vela pulsar, using their newly upgraded telescope ...

User comments : 0