A cosmic duet
May 5, 2022
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Scientists have just captured a new image of a beautiful “dance” between two galaxies: the spiral NGC 1512 (the largest in the picture) and its small neighbour NGC 1510. They are located in the direction of constellation Horologium (The Clock) some 60 million light-years from us, on Earth’s southern sky.
In the image, we see NGC 1512 trying to “stretch” and touch its tiny friend nearby, NGC 1510. The starry stream of light bridging the two galaxies shows they interact because of the gravity between them – a process that has been going on for 400 million years!
This interaction caused by gravity has affected the speed of star formation in both galaxies and has changed their shapes, too. In a distant future, these galaxies will merge into a larger one.
Scientists working with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), one of the world’s most powerful cameras, took the image. The instrument is housed on top of the Víctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
Image credits: Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA. Image processing: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), J. Miller (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab)
The DECam took six years – from 2004 to 2010 – to be designed and built. It was created to conduct the Dark Energy Survey, an international project that mapped hundreds of millions of galaxies and found thousands of supernovae to help us better understand dark energy and its role in accelerating the expansion of the Universe.
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