Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Strange galaxies

 Galaxies can take on the most disparate shapes: for example AM ​​0644-741 (bottom right) has the shape of a ring!

This galaxy is located 300 million light years away from Earth, in the direction of the constellation Volans. Inside it two main components can be identified. At its center there is a yellowish core, which is what remains of an original spiral galaxy. The core is surrounded by a circular structure with a diameter of 150,000 light years, which appears blue due to the newly formed young massive stars.

AM 0644-741 is the result of a collision that saw a smaller galaxy (visible above right) pass through the disk of a spiral galaxy. The shock waves produced by the interaction radically changed the structure of the galaxy, expelling the dust and gas from the center and placing it on a ring.

The ring is currently expanding, but it is not meant to last forever. In fact, it is believed that in the next tens of millions of years the structure will disintegrate and the galaxy will return to its original shape.

Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, HLA, Jonathan Lodge

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