Hubble photographs three colliding galaxies

The Hubble Orbital Observatory has received an exciting new image of deep space. It demonstrates SDSSCGB 10189, a group of three colliding galaxies in the constellation Boötes.

A group of three colliding galaxies SDSSCGB 10189. Source: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Sun

Galactic collisions are a fairly common event in the Universe. However, usually only two galaxies participate in them, while cases like SDSSCGB 10189 are very rare.

SDSSCGB 10189 consists of three star-forming galaxies separated by a distance of 50 thousand light-years, which is quite a bit by the standards of such objects. For comparison, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are separated by a distance of about 2.5 million light-years. It can be noted that the shapes of the SDSSCGB 10189 galaxies are distorted and tidal tails consisting of ejected stars and gas are stretched between them. In the future, they will finally collapse, and then merge into a single giant galaxy.

In the Hubble image, you can also see the fourth galaxy, which seems to be moving towards SDSSCGB 10189. But in reality, it has nothing to do with this group.

The SDSSCGB 10189 image was taken as part of a study aimed at establishing the origin of the brightest and most massive galaxies in the Universe, usually located in the centers of clusters. Astronomers suspected that they were formed during mergers resembling what Hubble photographed.

Earlier we talked about how the Chandra telescope photographed a collision involving three galactic clusters.

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