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Cosmic Collision From 360 Million Years Ago Gets Visit From VLT

First Posted: Dec 09, 2015 12:02 PM EST
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ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured the aftermath images of a cosmic collision that occurred 360 million years ago and a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy has formed among the remaining debris, according to a news release.

The young dwarf galaxy is now enabling astronomers to study similar galaxies, which were quite common in the early universe. However, these galaxies are too faint and distant for telescopes to detect.

In the center of the VLT image was an elliptical galaxy, which is approximately 200 million light years away in the constellation Centaurus (The Centaur). This galaxy was identified as NGC 5291, a hazy golden oval shaped galaxy. About 360 million years ago, NGC 5291 had encountered a violent collision with another galaxy that smashed into its core.

This cosmic collision released massive streams of gas, which later formed a ring around NGC 5291. The material in this ring was eventually broken down, where numerous star-forming regions were formed along with several dwarf-galaxies. The FORS instrument on the VLT captured the image of NGC 5291, which was surrounded by pale blue and white regions.

To the right of NGC 5291 is a bright massive clump of material, which has one of the dwarf galaxies, known as NGC 5291N. The Milky Way is made of many small dwarf galaxies from the early universe, which contain numerous old stars. Unlike the Milky Way, NGC 5291N does not contain any old stars. However, researchers found that the outer parts of the galaxy had properties that are connected to new star formation. The researchers believe that these unusual features may be as a result of massive collisions of gas in the vicinity.

NGC 5291N is quite different from normal dwarf galaxies. It has numerous similarities to the clumpy structures found in many star-forming galaxies in the distant universe.

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