If we want to know what it’ll look like in about 4.5 billion years when our galaxy merges with Andromeda, we might take a look at ARP 220. ARP 220 is a pair of galaxies that are in the process of merging. The merging galaxies emit brilliant infrared light, and the James Webb Space Telescope captured that light in a vivid portrait.Continue reading “JWST Sees Merging Galaxies Releasing the Light of a Trillion Suns”
Astronomers know that galaxies grow over time through mergers with other galaxies. We can see it happening in our galaxy. The Milky Way is slowly absorbing the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.
For the first time, astronomers have found evidence of an ancient mass migration of stars into another galaxy. They spotted over 7,000 stars in Andromeda (M31), our nearest neighbour, that merged into the galaxy about two billion years ago.Continue reading “Astronomers Uncover Mass Migration of Stars into Andromeda”
Sometimes it’s tempting to imagine a supernatural hand behind the arrangement of celestial bodies. But the Universe is big, huge even, and nature’s flow presents many fascinations.
So it is with the galactic triplet Arp 248, an arrangement of interacting galaxies that’s both visually and scientifically fascinating.Continue reading “The Perfect Tidal Tail Connects These two Galaxies Seen by Hubble”
The Milky Way is older than astronomers thought, or part of it is. A newly-published study shows that part of the disk is two billion years older than we thought. The region, called the thick disk, started forming only 0.8 billion years after the Big Bang.Continue reading “Part of the Milky Way Is Much Older Than Previously Believed”
Astronomers have a thing for big explosions and collisions, and it always seems like they are trying to one-up themselves in finding a bigger, brighter one. There’s a new entrant to that category – an event so big it created a burst of particles over 1 billion years ago that is still visible today and is 60 times bigger than the entire Milky Way.Continue reading “Astronomers see an Enormous Shockwave, 60 Times Bigger Than the Milky Way”
Astronomers have known for years that galaxies are cannibalistic. Massive galaxies like our own Milky Way have gained mass by absorbing smaller neighbours.
Now it looks like smaller galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud have also feasted on smaller neighbours.Continue reading “The Large Magellanic Cloud Stole one of its Globular Clusters”
One of the best things about that universe is that there is so much to it. If you look hard enough, you can most likely find any combination of astronomical events happening. Not long ago we reported on research that found 7 separate instances of three galaxies colliding with one another. Now, a team led by Jonathan Williams of the University of Maryland has found another triple galaxy merging cluster, but this one might potentially have two active supermassive black holes, allowing astronomers to peer into the system dynamics of two of the universe’s most extreme objects running into one another.Continue reading “Rare Triple Galaxy Merger With at Least Two Supermassive Black Holes”
What’s better than a quasar? That’s right, two quasars. Astronomers have spotted for the first time two rare double-quasars, and the results show us the dynamic, messy consequences of galaxy formation.Continue reading “Astronomers see a Rare “Double Quasar” in a Pair of Merging Galaxies”
What happens when galaxies collide? Well, if any humans are around in about a billion years, they might find out. That’s when our Milky Way galaxy is scheduled to collide with our neighbour the Andromeda galaxy. That event will be an epic, titanic, collision. The supermassive black holes at the center of both galaxies will feast on new material and flare brightly as the collision brings more gas and dust within reach of their overwhelming gravitational pull. Where massive giant stars collide with each other, lighting up the skies and spraying deadly radiation everywhere. Right?
Maybe not. In fact, there might be no feasting at all, and hardly anything titanic about it.Continue reading “When Galaxies Collide, Black Holes Don’t Always Get the Feast They Were Hoping for”
Galaxy mergers are beautiful sights, but ultimately deadly. In the midst of the collision, the combined galaxy will shine brighter than it ever has before. But that glory comes with a price: all those new stars use up all the available fuel, and star formation grinds to a halt.Continue reading “Galaxy Mergers can Boost Star Formation, and it can Also Shut it Down”