The Tadpole Galaxy

Tadpole Arp 188The Tadpole Galaxy is a disrupted barred spiral galaxy 420 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. Its most dramatic features is a trail of stars about 280,000 light-years long and massive, bright blue star clusters. Like a tadpole here on Earth, the galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older—the tail’s stars will probably form smaller satellite galaxies of the larger spiral.

Image Credit: NASA

Arp 188

Tadpole Arp 188The Tadpole Galaxy is a disrupted barred spiral galaxy 420 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. Its most dramatic features is a trail of stars about 280,000 light-years long and massive, bright blue star clusters. Like a tadpole here on Earth, the galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older—the tail’s stars will probably form smaller satellite galaxies of the larger spiral.

Image Credit: NASA

A Galactic Tadpole

Distant galaxies form the backdrop for the Tadpole Galaxy in this image assembled using data from the Hubble Legacy Archive. AKA Arp 188, the disrupted spiral is around 420,000,000 light-years distant in the direction of the northern constellation Draco. Its tail is about 280,000 light-years long and features massive blue star clusters. One theory suggests that a more compact galaxy crossed in front of Arp 188–from right to left in the picture—and was thrown around behind the Tadpole by their gravitational interaction. During the encounter, tidal forces drew stars, gas, and dust out of the Tadpole creating the spectacular tail. The alleged mugger galaxy is now estimated to be about 300,000 light-years behind the Tadpole and can be seen through foreground spiral arms at the upper right. Just like its terrestrial namesake, the Tadpole Galaxy will likely lose its tail as it grows older as the tail’s star clusters form smaller satellites of the large spiral galaxy.

Image Credit: NASA