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Merging galaxies halt star formation

19 Apr 2018, 11:17 UTC
Merging galaxies halt star formation NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (STScl/AURA)/A. Evans

The ‘dissection’ of two galaxies in the latter stages of merging has revealed how its two central supermassive black holes are hindering star formation throughout the whole galaxy. It also appears that the black holes are responsible for the galaxy’s unusual ‘butterfly’ shape.

A study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), led by Francisco Müller-Sánchez, examined the galaxy NGC 6240. What makes this galaxy different to other galaxies is that while most galaxies host just one supermassive black hole, NGC 6240 contains two. These two supermassive black holes appear to be orbiting each other, and this will lead to an inevitable collision and merger. This is a prime indicator that the galaxy is the result of a merger, and is in its final stages of merging.

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