Hubble spots 'pipeline' between rowdy galactic neighbors
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A Hubble image of two galaxies that bumped together about 100 million years ago shows an intergalactic 'pipeline' of material flowing between them
(CNN) -- An intriguing new Hubble image showcases a
narrow intergalactic bridge of matter extending between two
galaxies that periodically collide into each other.
A sprawling string of dark matter some 20,000 light years long
links the two compact galaxies, which bumped into each other
about 100 million years ago, according to Hubble astronomers.
The researchers think the encounter somehow created the pipeline,
which started in the left galaxy and wrapped around the right one
like a ribbon. But they cannot explain why the siphoned material
failed to ignite a stellar population explosion in the latter.
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"A stream of matter funneling into the galaxy should have fueled
a spate of star births," Hubble researchers said in a statement
They theorize that the gas flowing into the recipient galaxy,
known as NGC1409, is too hot to collapse gravitationally and form
Yet somehow the brief encounter tossed stars deep into space and
induced a flurry of star births in the other galaxy, NGC
1410. The blue color of the galaxy's arms signals productive star
Located about 300 million light years away in the constellation
Taurus, the dancing duo will periodically run into each other
again before finally merging in another 200 million years, the
Such galactic encounters could be common in the universe. Some
astronomers think that the Milky Way grew from mergers with other
galaxies and will collide with more in the distant future.
The image was released this week at a meeting of the American
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November 2, 2000
Hubble reveals secrets of a celestial 'Blob'
October 9, 2000
Space Telescope Science Institute
Hubble Heritage Project
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