Brilliant Hubble Images Show Colliding Galaxies

Merged galaxy NGC 3256 is located some 100 million light-years from Earth

Merged galaxy NGC 3256 is located some 100 million light-years from Earth. Image ESA NASA HUBBLE

In this handout from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope is grappled to Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 by the shuttle's Canadian-built remote manipulator system on May 13, 2009, in Space.

This week, astronomers working on the NASA and European Space Agency's legendary Hubble Space Telescope posted six images of vivid galactic mergers.

The Hubble Space Telescope published a series of 59 photographs of merging galaxies to mark its 18th anniversary in 2008, which can be explored here. ESA published the photos to commemorate the start of 2021. "These systems are excellent laboratories for tracking the formation of star clusters under extremely physical conditions". Groups of stars are just as they sound like star clusters.

How Did It Look Like?

NASA and the European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope have given us six rare ideas of galaxy mergers, and each of them is a victor.

The galaxies all display signs of their wild pasts.

Reference: "Star cluster formation in the most extreme environments: insights from the HiPEEC survey" by A Adamo, K Hollyhead, M Messa, J E Ryon, V Bajaj, A Runnholm, S Aalto, D Calzetti, J S Gallagher, M J Hayes, J M D Kruijssen, S König, S S Larsen, J Melinder, E Sabbi, L J Smith, and G Östlin, September 3, 2020, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. On the top from left to right: NGC 3256, NGC 1614, NGC 4194. NGC 3690 is a "supernova factory", and the image of NGC 6052 shows two galaxies still in the process of colliding. The collisions feed into new star creation, boosting the stellar rate of birth. "This is incomparable to the masses of star clusters that form in the collision of galaxies, which could reach millions of times the mass of our Sun".

The HiPEEC researchers found the large star clusters in the merged galaxies remain very luminous even after the collision action has quieted down. Although the merger can be dramatic for the galaxies involved, viewers on Earth can see spectacular results for Hubble's stern eyes.

Hubble's capabilities have made it possible to resolve large star-forming "knots" into multiple compact young star clusters.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of worldwide collaboration between ESA and NASA.

NGC 613 is classified as a barred spiral galaxy for the bar-shaped band of stars and dust crossing its intensely glowing center.

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