Image: Colliding galaxies

July 2, 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: Collaboration between musician and astronomer captures galactic events

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

Related Stories

'Cosmic fruit machine' matches collisions

November 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 pile-ups.

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 birth regions are ...

Earth's final destiny

August 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 with our neighbouring ...

Colliding galaxies make love, not war

October 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 brightest and most ...

Recommended for you

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

May 26, 2017

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar ...

SDO sees partial eclipse in space

May 26, 2017

On May 25, 2017, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, saw a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, ...

Jupiter's complex transient auroras

May 25, 2017

Combined observations from three spacecraft show that Jupiter's brightest auroral features recorded to date are powered by both the volcanic moon Io and interaction with the solar wind.

Methanol detected for first time around young star

May 25, 2017

Methanol, a key building block for the complex organic compounds that comprise life, has been detected for the first time in the protoplanetary disk of a young, distant star. This finding could help scientists better understand ...

New Neliota project detects flashes from lunar impacts

May 25, 2017

Using a system developed under an ESA contract, the Greek NELIOTA project has begun to detect flashes of light caused by small pieces of rock striking the moon's surface. NELIOTA is the first system that can determine the ...

0 comments

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.