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Warped galaxy
 

 

 

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Description NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of an unusual edge-on galaxy, ESO 510-G13, revealing remarkable details of its warped dusty disk and showing how colliding galaxies spawn the formation of new generations of stars.

The dust and spiral arms of normal spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way, appear flat when viewed edge-on. This image shows a galaxy that, by contrast, has an unusual twisted disk structure, first seen in ground-based photographs obtained at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. ESO 510-G13 lies in the southern constellation Hydra, roughly 150 million light-years from Earth.

Details of the structure of ESO 510-G13 are visible because the interstellar dust clouds that trace its disk are silhouetted from behind by light from the galaxy's bright, smooth central bulge.

The strong warping of the disk indicates that ESO 510-G13 has recently undergone a collision with a nearby galaxy and is in the process of swallowing it. Gravitational forces distort the structures of the galaxies as their stars, gas, and dust merge together in a process that takes millions of years. Eventually the disturbances will die out, and ESO 510-G13 will become a normal-appearing single galaxy.

In the outer regions of ESO 510-G13, especially on the right-hand side of the image, we see that the twisted disk contains not only dark dust, but also bright clouds of blue stars. This shows that hot, young stars are being formed in the disk. Astronomers believe that the formation of new stars may be triggered by collisions between galaxies, as their interstellar clouds smash together and are compressed.

Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) was used to observe ESO 510-G13 in April 2001. Pictures obtained through blue, green, and red filters were combined to make this color-composite image, which emphasizes the contrast between the dusty spiral arms, the bright bulge, and the blue star-forming regions.
Date April 2001(2001-04)
Source http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2001/23/image/a (direct link)
Shuttle.svg This image or video was catalogued by Hubble Space Telescope Institute of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Photo ID: STScI-PRC2001-23 AND Alternate ID: PIA04213.
This tag does not indicate the copyright status or the source of the attached work. A normal copyright tag and a source are still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.

Author NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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Public domain This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA and ESA. Hubble material is copyright-free and may be freely used as in the public domain without fee, on the condition that NASA and ESA is credited as the source of the material. The material was created for NASA by Space Telescope Science Institute and for ESA by the Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre under Contract NAS5-26555. Copyright statement at hubblesite.org or copyright statement at spacetelescope.org.
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