Evolution in slow motion

It is known today that merging galaxies play a large role in the evolution of galaxies and the formation of elliptical galaxies in particular. However there are only a few merging systems close enough to be observed in depth. The pair of interacting galaxies picture seen here — known as NGC 3921 — is one of these systems.

NGC 3921 — found in the constellation of Ursa Major (The Great Bear) — is an interacting pair of disc galaxies in the late stages of its merger. Observations show that both of the galaxies involved were about the same mass and collided about 700 million years ago. You can see clearly in this image the disturbed morphology, tails and loops characteristic of a post-merger.

The clash of galaxies caused a rush of star formation and previous Hubble observations showed over 1000 bright, young star clusters bursting to life at the heart of the galaxy pair.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla.com)

About the Image

Id:potw1537a
Type:Observation
Release date:14 September 2015, 10:00
Size:4130 x 3954 px

About the Object

Name:NGC 3921
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Distance:270 million light years
Constellation:Ursa Major
Category:Galaxies
Stars

Image Formats

Large JPEG
6.6 MB
Screensize JPEG
264.8 KB

Zoomable


Wallpapers

1024x768
300.4 KB
1280x1024
512.3 KB
1600x1200
780.0 KB
1920x1200
978.1 KB
2048x1536
1.3 MB

Coordinates

Position (RA):11 51 7.12
Position (Dec):55° 4' 45.11"
Field of view:2.73 x 2.61 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 147.8° left of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
555W
540 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
555W
540 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
814W
794 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2
Optical
814W
794 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFPC2

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