Hubble captures two galaxies in a cosmic dance

November 14th, 2007 - 8:09 am ICT by admin  
Astronomer Halton Arp originally catalogued the pair, known collectively as Arp 87, in the 1960s. It is one of hundreds of interacting and merging galaxies known in our nearby universe.

The pair is in the constellation Leo, the Lion, approximately 300 million light-years away from Earth.

NGC 3808, the larger of the two galaxies, is a nearly face-on spiral galaxy with a bright ring of star formation and several prominent dust arms. Its companion, NGC 3808A, is a spiral galaxy seen edge-on, surrounded by a rotating ring that contains stars and interstellar gas clouds.

The seemingly orchestrated ‘dance performance’ is because of the stars, gas, and dust that flow from NGC 3808 towards NGC 3808A, thus forming an enveloping arm around the latter.

Scientists say this is because of the prevalent gravitational pull that the larger galaxy exerts over the smaller.

As a result of this constant interaction, the shapes of both galaxies have been distorted by their gravitational interaction with one another, they say.

Scientists say, as seen in other mergers similar to Arp 87, the corkscrew shape of the tidal material or bridge of shared matter between the two galaxies suggests that some stars and gas drawn from the larger galaxy have been caught in the gravitational pull of the smaller one. (ANI)

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