Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Island Universes with a Twist

27.07.2006
VLT Images of Perturbed Galaxies

If life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you will get – the Universe, with its immensely large variety of galaxies, must be a real candy store! ESO’s Very Large Telescope has taken images of three different ‘Island Universes’, each amazing in their own way, whose curious shapes testify of a troubled past, and for one, of a foreseeable doomed future.


The first galaxy pictured is NGC 908, located 65 million light-years towards the constellation of Cetus (the Whale). This spiral galaxy, discovered in 1786 by William Herschel, is a so-called starburst galaxy, that is, a galaxy undergoing a phase where it spawns stars at a frantic rate. Clusters of young and massive stars can be seen in the spiral arms. Two supernovae, the explosions of massive stars, have been recorded in the near past: one in 1994 and another in May of this year. The galaxy, which is about 75 000 light-years long, also clearly presents uneven and thick spiral arms, the one on the left appearing to go upwards, forming a kind of ribbon. These properties indicate that NGC 908 most probably suffered a close encounter with another galaxy, even though none is visible at present.

The second galaxy featured constitutes another wonderful sight yet of a more timid nature: it does not belong to the NGC catalogue, like so many of its more famous brethren. Its less well-known designation, ESO 269-G57, refers to the ESO/Uppsala Survey of the Southern Sky in the 1970's during which over 15,000 southern galaxies were found with the ESO Schmidt telescope and catalogued.

Located about 155 million light-years away towards the southern constellation Centaurus (the Centaur), ESO 269-G57 is a spectacular spiral galaxy of symmetrical shape that belongs to a well-known cluster of galaxies seen in this direction. An inner ‘ring’, of several tightly wound spiral arms, surrounded by two outer ones that appear to split into several branches, are clearly visible. Many blue and diffuse objects are seen - most are star-forming regions. ESO 269-G57 extends over about 4 arc minutes in the sky, corresponding to nearly 200,000 light-years across. Resembling a large fleet of spaceships, many other faint, distant galaxies are visible in the background.

Finally, ESO 27c/06 provides a view of a more tormented organism, a so-called irregular galaxy, known as NGC 1427A. Located about 60 million light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Fornax (the Furnace), NGC 1427A is about 20,000 light-years long and shares some resemblances with our neighbouring Large Magellanic Cloud. NGC 1427A is in fact plunging into the Fornax cluster of galaxies at a speed of 600 km/s, and takes an arrowhead shape. Moving so rapidly, the galaxy is compressed by the intracluster gas, and this compression gives birth to many new stars.

Using these and other VLT observations, astronomer Iskren Y. Georgiev from the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at Bonn (Germany) and his colleagues [3] were able to find 38 candidates globular clusters that are about 10 billion years old. The scientists also inferred that NGC 1427A is about 10 million light-years in front of the central dominant elliptical galaxy in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, NGC 1399. It seems certain that under such circumstances, the future of NGC 1427A looks bleak, as the galaxy will finally be disrupted, dispersing its content of gas and stars in the intracluster regions.

Just next to NGC 1427A, but 25 times further away, a more typical, beautiful face-on spiral galaxy is looking rather unperturbed at the dramatic spectacle.

The multi-mode FORS instrument, on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, was used to take the images of these three galaxies.

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2006/pr-27-06.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>