Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Ring of Stars

The astronomical discoveries since the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (and similar instruments) never cease to amaze me. I have a pretty good imagination, but I never expected a breathtakingly gorgeous ring-shaped galaxy.

 When galaxies collide, they pass through each other -- their individual stars rarely come into contact. The ring-like shape is the result of the gravitational disruption caused by an entire small intruder galaxy passing through a large one. When this happens, interstellar gas and dust become condensed, causing a wave of star formation to move out from the impact point like a ripple across the surface of a pond. 

Image Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI), J. Higdon (CornellESANASA 

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