“Hubble” photographed a galaxy that survived the merger

“Hubble” photographed a galaxy that survived the merger

This new image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows ESO 185-IG013, a blue luminous compact galaxy (CLG). This term refers to nearby galaxies in which an intense burst of star formation is observed. They are extremely blue in visible light, which distinguishes them from other star-forming galaxies that emit more infrared light.

Astrophysicists study GCCs because they are a relatively close analogue of galaxies from the early universe. This means that HCGs can help scientists learn about the formation and evolution of galaxies that may have occurred billions of years ago.

Hubble took pictures of ESO 185-IG013 in the ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths to reveal details of its past. Hundreds of young star clusters, many of which are less than 100 million years old, populate the galaxy. A large number of star clusters are only 3.5 million years old, which is very little compared to the time frame of our universe. Scientists predict that many of these youngest clusters will not last long, as young clusters often die after ejecting too much gas.

The large number of young star clusters indicates that this galaxy was part of a recent collision and merger of galaxies. Another sign is the disordered structure of the galaxy, which probably arose from the violent interaction of gas and dust during the collision. The merger provided the system with plenty of fuel for star formation, which continues today.

ESO 185-IG013 also contains a tidal envelope, a diffuse glow around a bright center that is a common signature of merging galaxies. Scientists believe that during a galaxy merger, the smaller of the two interacting galaxies is destroyed by the larger galaxy, losing most of its material. At the same time, material is released, which is then again attracted by the gravity of a larger galaxy. The dense region in which the material is moving is called the envelope, and it contains many star clusters. In addition to the shell, ESO 185-IG013 boasts a gas tail.

All the stars in the system have a total mass that is more than 7 billion times the mass of our Sun. The system is about 260 million light-years away.

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