Astronomy Picture of the Day
Index - Galaxies: Colliding Galaxies

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Editor's choices for the most educational Astronomy Pictures of the Day about colliding galaxies:

APOD: 2000 November 13 - Disorder in Stephan's Quintet
Explanation: What are four closely grouped galaxies doing in this image? The grouping composes a majority of the large galaxies in Stephan's Quintet, with the fifth prominent galaxy located off the above image to the lower right. Three of these four galaxies show nearly the same redshift, indicating that they reside at the same distance from us. These three galaxies are in the midst a titanic collision, each ripping the others apart with gravitational tidal forces. The large bluish spiral below and left of center is a foreground galaxy much closer than the others and hence not involved in the cosmic battle. Most of Stephan's Quintet lies about 300 million light-years away towards the constellation of Pegasus.

APOD: 1997 October 27 - Closeup of Antennae Galaxy Collision
Explanation: It's a clash of the titans. Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, however, the stars that compose them usually do not. This is because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. But during the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In the above wreckage, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds, which are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of stars.

APOD: 1999 July 22 - Cosmic Collisions in a Galaxy Cluster
Explanation: Hundreds of galaxies appear as faint smudges of light in this Hubble Space Telescope picture of galaxy cluster MS1054-03. Eight billion light-years away, the cluster is among the most distant known clusters of galaxies and is now reported to contain the largest number of colliding galaxies ever found in a cluster. Examples of these truly cosmic collisions are shown in the insets at the right. Disrupted by gravitational effects, the colliding galaxies are thought to merge over a billion years or so to form larger galaxies - a theory of galaxy formation which seems to be borne out by these results. Though galaxy collisions appear to have occurred much more frequently in the distant, early Universe, they are still seen to happen in the nearby, "close-to-present" Universe.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.