A Young Dwarf Galaxy

This video starts out from a broad view of the southern Milky Way and ends with a close-up view of the spectacular aftermath of a 360 million year old cosmic collision.

NGC 5291 is the hazy, golden oval dominating the middle of the final image. It’s an elliptical galaxy located nearly 200 million light-years from Earth. It was involved in a dramatic and violent collision as another galaxy travelling at immense speeds punched through its core. The mashup ejected huge streams of gas into nearby space which later coalesced into a ring formation around the galaxy. Material in the ring coalesced into star-forming regions and several dwarf galaxies. The most massive and luminous clump of material near NGC 5291 is one of those dwarf galaxies known as NGC 5291N.

NGC 5291N appears to contain no old stars. Astronomers suspect that the galaxy contains no “heritage” stars from the collision but is made up only of new stars formed from the ejected gas and dust. While NGC 5291N doesn’t look like a typical dwarf galaxy, it shares a striking number of similarities with the clumpy structures present within many of the star-forming galaxies in the distant Universe. It’s a unique system in our part of the Universe and an important laboratory for the study of early gas-rich galaxies, most of which are too distant to be observed in detail by current telescopes.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubTOAFBv7rI]

Video Credit: ESO

1 thought on “A Young Dwarf Galaxy

Leave a Reply