The last waltz

This curious galaxy — only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340 — has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The galaxy has merged with another galaxy leaving a fine mist, made of millions of stars, spewing from it in long trails.

Despite the apparent chaos, this snapshot of the gravitational tango was captured towards the event’s conclusion. This transforming galaxy is heading into old age with its star-forming days coming to an end. The true drama occurred earlier in the process, when the various clouds of gas within the two galaxies were so disturbed by the event that they collapsed, triggering an eruption of star formation. This flurry of activity exhausted the vast majority of the galactic gas, leaving the galaxy sterile and unable to produce new stars.

As the violence continues to subside, the newly formed galaxy’s population of stars will redden with age and eventually begin drop off one by one. With no future generations of stars to take their place, the galaxy thus begins a steady descent towards death.

Credit:

ESA/Hubble & NASA

Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)

About the Image

Id:potw1547a
Type:Observation
Release date:23 November 2015, 06:00
Size:4265 x 4049 px

About the Object

Name:2MASX J16270254+4328340
Type:Local Universe : Galaxy : Type : Interacting
Constellation:Hercules
Category:Galaxies

Image Formats

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9.9 MB
Screensize JPEG
301.4 KB

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Coordinates

Position (RA):16 27 0.30
Position (Dec):43° 28' 40.92"
Field of view:2.82 x 2.68 arcminutes
Orientation:North is 16.6° right of vertical

Colours & filters

BandWavelengthTelescope
Optical
B
438 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3
Optical
R
625 nm Hubble Space Telescope
WFC3

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