Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Comet Galaxy

The Comet Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located 3.2 billion light-years from Earth, in the galaxy cluster Abell 2667, was found with the Hubble Space Telescope. This galaxy has slightly more mass than our Milky Way. It was detected on 2 March 2007.

This unique spiral galaxy, which is situated 3.2 billion light-years from the Earth, has an extended stream of bright blue knots and diffuse wisps of young stars. It rushes at 3.5 million km/h through the cluster Abell 2667 and therefore, like a comet, shows a tail, with a length of 600,000 light-years.

The –°omet Galaxy is currently being ripped to pieces, moving through a cluster at speeds of greater than 2 million mph. As the galaxy speeds through, its gas and stars are being stripped away by the tidal forces exerted by the cluster - just as the tidal forces exerted by the Moon and Sun push and pull the Earth's oceans. 

Also contributing to this destructive process is the pressure of the cluster's hot gas plasma reaching temperatures as high as 100 million degrees. Scientists estimate that the total duration of the transformation process is close to one billion years. What is seen now in the Hubble's image is roughly 200 million years into the process. 

Even though the Comet Galaxy's mass is slightly greater than the Milky Way, it will lose all its gas and dust, and so not be able to generate stars later in life. It will become a gas-poor galaxy with an old population of red stars.

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