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When galaxies strip for each other

19 Oct 2012, 13:00 UTC
When galaxies strip for each other
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a gorgeous shot of a weird and beautiful galaxy, and I have one that fits the bill perfectly: NGC 660, what’s called a polar ring galaxy:

How awesome is that? [Click to galactenate.]
This picture, taken using the Gemini 8-meter telescope and put together by my old pal Travis Rector, is really pretty, and really pretty weird. Reading about it, in fact, I learned something! Learn it with me:
Ring galaxies are odd. I’ve always thought they were the result of galactic collisions, literally where two galaxies collide. If one is smaller, traveling rapidly, and pierces right through the heart of the other, the weird gravitational effects wind up creating a gigantic ring of material, and you get something that looks like a fried egg. The best and coolest example I know of this is Hoag’s Object, seen here in a Hubble image (put together by another friend of mine, Tiffany Davis).
In general with these kinds of objects, there are tell-tale signs of the collision. The gas in ...

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