La violenta colisión de dos galaxias en la constelación de Sculptor

An image of the Cartwheel Galaxy taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been reprocessed using the latest techniques to mark the closure of the Space Telescope European Coordination Facility (ST-ECF), based near Munich in Germany, and to celebrate its achievements in supporting Hubble science in Europe over the past 26 years. Astronomer Bob Fosbury, who is stepping down as Head of the ST-ECF, was responsible for much of the early research into the Cartwheel Galaxy along with the late Tim Hawarden — including giving the object its very apposite name — and so this image was selected as a fitting tribute. The object was first spotted on wide-field images from the UK Schmidt telescope and then studied in detail using the Anglo-Australian Telescope.Lying about 500 million light-years away in the constellation of Sculptor, the cartwheel shape of this galaxy is the result of a violent galactic collision. A smaller galaxy has passed right through a large disc galaxy and produced shock waves that swept up gas and dust — much like the ripples produced when a stone is dropped into a lake — and sparked regions of intense star formation (appearing blue). The outermost ring of the galaxy, which is 1.5 times the size of our Milky Way, marks the shock wave’s leading edge. This object is one of the most dramatic examples of the small class of ring galaxies.This image was produced after Hubble data was reprocessed using the free open source software FITS Liberator 3, which was developed at the ST-ECF. Careful use of this widely used state-of-the-art tool on the original Hubble observations of the Cartwheel Galaxy has brought out more detail in the image than ever before. Although the ST-ECF is closing, ESA’s mission to bring amazing Hubble discoveries to the public will be unaffected, with Hubblecasts, press and photo releases, and Hubble Pictures of the Week continuing to be regularly posted on spacetelescope.org. Links  Space Telescope European Coordination

Ubicada a 500 millones de años luz en la constelación de Sculptor, se encuentra la Galaxia Rueda de Carro, también conocida como ESO 350-40. Este objeto es el resultado de una violenta colisión entre una galaxia pequeña que pasó justo por el centro del disco de una galaxia más grande. La colisión provocó ondas de choque que están barriendo con el gas y polvo, similar a las ondas producidas cuando una piedra es arrojada en el agua. Dichas ondas han desatado la formación estelar en varias zonas visibles de color azul en la imagen.

El anillo exterior de la galaxia, el cual es 1,5 veces más grande que la Vía Láctea, muestra hasta dónde se han expandido las ondas de choque. Este objeto es uno de los ejemplos más dramáticos de colisiones galácticas. Los científicos calculan que la colisión ocurrió hace 200 millones de años aproximadamente.

Crédito: NASA / ESA / Hubble

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