Wednesday, October 5

Cosmic butterfly: the image left by a galactic merger | Digital Trends Spanish


Astronomers from the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii have released this stunning image depicting the early stages of a galactic mergerone of the most spectacular events in the universe, and shows the two galaxies NGC 4568 and NGC 4567, linked by a mutual gravitational field, which has generated a kind of cosmic butterfly.

The collision of these two huge spiral galaxies located about 60 million light years from Earth, in the Virgo cluster, is what has generated this beautiful image.

The galaxies will lose their spiral structures as their struggling gravitational forces trigger intense bursts of star formation to ultimately end up coalescing into a new elliptical galaxy in about 500 million years, according to a statement from NOIRLab, which operates the Gemini North telescope.

The new image gives scientists a “sneak peek” of what will happen in about 5 billion years when our galaxy, the Milky Way, collides with its closest large neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy.

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