hubble image medusa merger snakes and stonesThis Hubble Image of the Week exhibits a galaxy with an particularly evocative identify: The Medusa merger. ESA/Hubble & NASA, A. Adamo

This week’s Hubble picture encompasses a legendary monster: The Medusa, who gave her identify to the merging of two galaxies which are actually referred to as one entity, the Medusa merger. Positioned 130 million light-years away within the constellation of Ursa Main (The Nice Bear), this merger was created when one bigger galaxy collided with a smaller system wealthy in fuel and devoured it, sending out sprays of mud and stars.

It’s these streams of mud spreading out into house that gave the galaxy its identify. When you look within the prime a part of the higher part of the galaxy, you may see crimson strands reaching out into house. These dusty tendrils had been thought to resemble snakes, just like the snakes which the monster Medusa had on her head rather than hair in historic Greek mythology. It was stated that anybody who beheld Medusa instantly can be turned to stone, till the hero Perseus defeated her utilizing a mirrored protect which let him see her reflection.

Just like the Gorgon of legend, the Medusa merger additionally has its personal eye. Wanting into the area on the heart of the merging galaxies, referred to as Medusa’s eye, gained’t flip you into stone however it is going to allow you to observe a area of lively star formation, during which mud and fuel have gotten dense and scorching and are creating new stars.

The attention area is uncommon in that the gases that circulate there are a lot hotter than comparable areas in different galaxies, with temperatures reaching over 300 levels Kelvin (27°C or 80°F). This excessive temperature heats the close by mud and causes it to glow with a shorter infrared wavelength, or a extra reddish tinge.

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Astronomers have proposed two causes that this may very well be the case on this explicit area of this explicit galaxy: Firstly, it may very well be that the fuel which is flowing towards the warmer, denser heart of the galaxy experiences shocks when it collides with the interstellar medium inside the attention, heating the fuel to increased temperatures. Or secondly, the shocks may very well be the results of a supernova or radiation from stars forming inside a large star cluster. To find which of those is right, scientists might want to take higher-resolution measurements of the galaxy and its crimson eye specifically.

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