June 30, 2022

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NASA publishes a stunning Hubble image of two galaxies trapped in a dance

NASA publishes a stunning Hubble image of two galaxies trapped in a dance

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Although James Webb is in place and observations are set to begin this summer, Hubble is still going strong. The 30-year-old space telescope recently captured two galaxies locked in a dance. NASA shared the image this week, and space enthusiasts will want to see it for themselves.

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Hubble captured two galaxies trapped in a dance

Two galaxies trapped in a dance

Two galaxies trapped in a dance

The two galaxies depicted in the above image are NGC 3227 and NGC 3226. The duo is known collectively as Arp 94 and can be found about 50 to 60 million light-years away from Earth. While you can’t see it very well in the image, there are faint tidal currents of gas and dust that trap the two galaxies in a dance with each other.

It’s an amazing picture and just another reminder of how many unique galactic formations out there. NASA says Hubble captured the images as part of a study on black hole mass measurement. The idea was to measure the mass of black holes in galaxies by observing the dynamics of the gas in the center.

You can see the galaxy NGC 3227 on the left. It is a massive spiral galaxy known as the Sievert galaxy. It, like our Milky Way, bears a A supermassive black hole at its center. To the right is NGC 3226, an elliptical galaxy that NASA believes previously decimated a third galaxy in the region.

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Despite the fact that these two galaxies are caught in a dance, there is also interest in star formation in NGC 3226.

The confusing science of making stars

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Based on all we know; NASA says NGC 3226 should make new stars. This is because all the energy and debris from the previous galaxy feeds directly into it. But, based on a Study from 2014This does not appear to be the case here.

Even these two galaxies are stuck in a dance, and NGC 3226 is constantly feeding on that ancient energy, its star-formation rate is very low. Instead, the material falling into NGC 3226 appears to be colliding with other galaxy’s gases. As such, NASA says it is squeezing out new star formation rather than fueling it.

It’s an interesting discovery, and it only raises more questions about how galaxies form new stars. NASA believes NGC 3226 is currently moving from a newer, more active galaxy known as a “blue” galaxy to an older “red” galaxy.

NASA plans to continue studying the “galactic dance” for more clues about the transition from younger to older galaxies. And the folks at NASA’s Herschel Science Center think it could one day start forming stars again.

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