Galaxy Twisted After Collision

ESO 510-G13 Galaxy

Twisted Galaxy ESO 510-G13

About 150,000 light years away, a cosmic collision is producing a twisted galaxy with a bright smooth central core.  In April of 2001, Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 was trained on a galaxy located in the southern constellation Hydra.  This galaxy is known as ESO 510-G13.

The first thing you notice about this galaxy is that it is seen edge on – just like the Sombrero Galaxy– except this galaxy has a twist.  Look closely at the dusty disk surrounding the bright central bulge.  You’ll see that it is not completely flat.  Instead, it appears to be warped.  You can see the details of this warped band because the structure has been lit from behind by the bright bubble of stars in the middle of the galaxy.

sombrero galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy

Scientists think that the twisted galaxy was formed by a recent collision with a nearby galaxy and is in the process of absorbing it.  Strong gravitational forces will pull both galaxies together until they merge into a single galaxy.  This process doesn’t happen fast!  It will take millions of years before the galaxy looks normal again.

One of the clues that this unique galaxy was created by a collision is the evidence of newly formed stars that can be seen on the right side of the image – in the dark band.  These bright blue, young stars are thought to have been triggered by the collision as bands of dust and gas were smashed together.

Photo Credit:  NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScl/AURA)

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