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Interacting Galaxies Group Arp 194
|Arp 194, UGC 6945
Interacting galaxy system
R.A. 11h 57m 55s.30 Dec. +36° 23' 20".00
600 million light-years or 184 megaparsecs
This image is 76 arcseconds (220,000 light-years or 68,000 parsecs) wide.
January 14-19, 2009
NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI)
April 21, 2009
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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:
Over the past 19 years Hubble has taken dozens of exotic pictures of galaxies going "bump in the night" as they collide with each other and have a variety of close encounters of the galactic kind. Just when you thought these interactions couldn't look any stranger, this image of a trio of galaxies, called Arp 194, looks like one of the galaxies has sprung a leak. This interacting group contains several galaxies, along with a "cosmic fountain" of stars, gas, and dust that stretches over 100,000 light-years. The bright blue streamer is really a stretched spiral arm full of newborn blue stars. This typically happens when two galaxies interact and gravitationally tug at each other.
Resembling a pair of owl eyes, the two nuclei of the colliding galaxies can be seen in the process of merging at the upper left. The bizarre blue bridge of material extending out from the northern component looks like it connects to a third galaxy. In reality the galaxy is in the background and not connected at all. Hubble's sharp view allows astronomers to try and visually sort out what are foreground and background objects when galaxies, superficially, appear to overlap.
The northern (upper) component of Arp 194 appears as a haphazard collection of dusty spiral arms, bright blue star-forming regions, and at least two galaxy nuclei that appear to be connected and in the early stages of merging. A third, relatively normal, spiral galaxy appears off to the right. The southern (lower) component of the galaxy group contains a single large spiral galaxy with its own blue star-forming regions.
However, the most striking feature of this galaxy troupe is the impressive blue stream of material extending from the northern component. This "fountain" contains complexes of super star clusters, each one of which may contain dozens of individual young star clusters. The blue color is produced by the hot, massive stars which dominate the light in each cluster. Overall, the "fountain" contains many millions of stars.
These young star clusters probably formed as a result of the interactions between the galaxies in the northern component of Arp 194. The compression of gas through gravitational forces involved in galaxy interactions can enhance the star-formation rate and give rise to brilliant bursts of star formation in merging systems.
Hubble's resolution shows clearly that the stream of material lies in front of the southern component of Arp 194, as evidenced by the dust that is silhouetted around the star-cluster complexes. It is therefore not entirely clear whether the southern component actually interacts with the northern pair.
The details of the interactions among the multiple galaxies that make up Arp 194 are complex. The shapes of all the galaxies involved appear to have been distorted, possibly by their gravitational interactions with one another.
Arp 194, located in the constellation Ursa Major, resides approximately 600 million light-years away from Earth. It contains some of the many interacting and merging galaxies known in our relatively nearby universe. .
This picture was issued to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1990. During the past 19 years Hubble has made more than 880,000 observations and snapped over 570,000 images of 29,000 celestial objects.