From the spiral galaxy D100 comes a glowing red gaseous hydrogen gas flowing towards the center of the giant coma galaxy. Shining blue clusters of young stars can be seen near the center of the tail where there is still enough hydrogen gas to fuel the formation of stars.
Credit: Hubble image: NASA, ESA, M. Sun (University of Alabama) and W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University); Picture of Subaru: M. Yagi (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a stunning new look at the spiral galaxy that was approaching the massive Coma galaxy and is stripped of its gas.
The spiral galaxy, called the D100, is gravitationally towed toward the dense center of the Coma cluster, some 330 million light-years from Earth. As the galaxy plunges toward the star cluster, it releases its gas and creates a long, thin tail that extends about 200,000 light-years – nearly the width of two Milky Way Galaxies, according to NASA's statement.
The tail of the galaxy consists of dust and hydrogen gas. Once a galaxy passes through the intergalactic material around a cluster, gas and dust are brought out of the galaxy. [Celestial Photos: Hubble Space Telescope’s Latest Cosmic Views]
The D100 eventually exhausts the gaseous hydrogen that the galaxy needs to create new stars and become a dead relic.
"This galaxy stands out as a particularly extreme example of processes common in massive clusters where the galaxy comes out of a healthy spiral full of star formation on the red and dead galaxies," said William Cramer, lead author of the study and scientist at Yale University in Connecticut. "The spiral arms will disappear and the galaxy will be left without gas and only the old stars." This phenomenon has been known for decades, but Hubble provides the best images of the galaxies that are going through this process.
Scientists estimate that the D100 process takes about 300 million years.
While the D100 is one of many galaxies in this situation, one factor distinguishes it from the others that astronomers have seen and modeled: D100's tail is much smoother and well-defined than most of these galaxies, according to the study.
"It's a surprise because such a tail can not be seen in most computer simulations." Most galaxies that are going through this process are more of a mess, "says Jeffrey Kenney, co-author of the study at Yale University. declaration. "The clean edges and fiber structures of the tail indicate that the magnetic field plays a prominent role in its formation." "Computer simulations show that the magnetic field forms the fibers in the tail gas." "Without magnetic fields, the tail is more lumpy than fibrous."
Hubble data showed that the gas separation process began at the outer edges of the galaxy and is now moving towards the center. The hot, shining blue stars of young stars appear in the image, the lightest such collapse in the middle of the tail, where there is still enough hydrogen gas to drive star formation, according to the statement.
Researchers, however, estimated that for hundreds of millions of years, the D100 will lose its spiral structure and will consist only of old red stars. The findings were published on January 8 in the Astrophysical Journal.