Gemini North Telescope Captures an Epic Image of Two Galaxies Merging


The Gemini North Telescope by NOIRLabon duty in Hawaii, captured an epic image of the very moment when two galaxies were in the process of merging, cataloged by experts as a “cosmic butterfly”.

As the Digital Trends website report explains, deep in space entire galaxies can collide, by destruction or creation, as they can interact to create pockets of intense star formation as they merge.

This is a slow process, which can occur over millions of years, so astronomers can detect these mergers when they occur, as was the case with the capture by Gemini North.

The merger of NGC 4568 and NGC 4567

The galaxies NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 were those observed in the process of collision and fusion. The two are 20,000 light years theory close, and are about to enter a destructive phase of fusion.

The two galaxies are 60 million light-years away from Earth.towards the constellation of Virgo, and both are spiral galaxies like our Milky Way.

However, as they get closer and closer, the huge gravitational forces involved in the merger will begin to distort their shapes, stretching out parts and triggering bursts of star formationyes

In an official statement, NOIRLab explained the consequences of the collision and merger of these galaxies: “As NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 come together and merge, their dueling gravitational forces will unleash bursts of intense star formation and wildly distort their once-majestic structures.”.

Over millions of years, the galaxies will repeatedly intersect in ever tighter loops, drawing in long streams of stars and gas until their individual structures become so completely mixed that a single, essentially spherical galaxy emerges from the chaos. By that time, much of the gas and dust (the fuel for star formation) in this system will have been used up or removed.”, he detailed.

NOIRLab also notes that this process is similar to what will eventually happen to the Milky Way when the nearby Andromeda galaxy collides with our home galaxy in about 4 billion years.

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