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When a Galaxy Meets a Cluster

16 Oct 2020, 22:01 UTC
When a Galaxy Meets a Cluster
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Space is big and even the regions between one galaxy and its neighbor can seem empty once you get “out there.” So, what happens when two objects get close together in space? You get collisions and close approaches.

The birth of our own Moon was likely the result of a collision between the infant Earth and a Mars-sized world called “Theia”. Of course, one galaxy can collide with another. That’s what astronomers predict will happen between the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies in a few billion years. The image above shows what it might look like to an observer on a planet inside one of the two galaxies. But, what about other kinds of collisions and near-misses?

Astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the Big Island of Hawai’i took a look at a nearby globular cluster called M92. It’s about 27,000 light-years from Earth and can be spotted just at the top of the constellation Hercules. What the astronomers “see” is a stream of stars being pulled out of the cluster. They’re not immediately obvious to the casual observer, but in specific wavelengths of light, they stand right out, as shown here in a plot of data from the ...

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