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Astronomers Discover Star-Studded Galaxy Tail

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posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 05:41 AM
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NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer has discovered a galaxy tail studded with bright knots of new stars. The tail, which was created as the galaxy IC 3418 plunged into the neighboring Virgo cluster of galaxies, offers new insight into how stars form.


Hester and her team studied the tail of IC 3418, which formed in a very different way. IC 3418 is mingling not with one galaxy, but with the entire Virgo cluster of galaxies 54 million light-years away from Earth. This massive cluster, which contains about 1,500 galaxies and is permeated by hot gas, is pulling in IC 3418, causing it to plunge through the cluster's gas at a rate of 1,000 kilometers per second, or more than 2 million miles per hour. At this incredible speed, the little galaxy's gas is being shoved back into a choppy tail.




The astronomers were able to find this tail with the help of the Galaxy Evolution Explorer. Clusters of massive, young stars speckle the tail, and these stars glow with ultraviolet light that the space telescope can see. The young stars tell scientists that a crucial ingredient for star formation -- dense clouds of gas called molecular hydrogen -- formed in the wake of this galaxy's plunge.

This is the first time astronomers have found solid evidence that clouds of molecular hydrogen can form under the violent conditions present in a turbulent wake.


"IC 3418's tail of star-formation demonstrates that strong turbulence promotes cloud formation". "These tails are unique, exotic locations where we can probe the precise mechanisms behind star formation," said Hester. "Understanding star formation is pivotal to understanding the lifecycles of galaxies and the dramatic transformations that some galaxies undergo. We can also study how the process affects the development of planets like our own."


www.sciencedaily.com...




posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 11:47 AM
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It's amazing that with normal view halve of what's out their seems missing.

Thanks for posting this



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 11:54 AM
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No problem

That's why I love the universe, always surprising us!



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