The Hubble Space Telescope Documents LINER Galaxy on a Collision Trajectory

by Henrik Andersen
7 comments
Hubble Space Telescope

Featured in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope are two galaxies, NGC 3558 situated in the lower left corner and LEDA 83465 located in the upper right. Separated by an approximate distance of 150,000 light years, these galaxies are comparatively close in terms of cosmic scales. Both galaxies are approximately 450 million light years away from Earth. When one contemplates that the closest galaxy to the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, is a staggering 2.5 million light years away, the proximity of the two depicted galaxies becomes more evident.

The reason for their relative closeness is their membership in a densely populated and tumultuous galaxy cluster known as Abell 1185. Within this cluster, galaxies frequently interact with each other via gravitational forces. Such interactions have occasionally produced dramatic outcomes, including the complete disintegration of galaxies. However, NGC 3558 has managed to maintain its structure, existing as both an elliptical galaxy and a low-ionization nuclear emission-line region, or LINER. It is likely that NGC 3558 acquired its current form by absorbing smaller galaxies within the cluster, such as LEDA 83465.

Insights into LINERs

LINERs represent a specialized category of galactic nuclei characterized by unique chemical signatures evident in the emitted light. These regions are known for emitting light that indicates a weak or absent level of ionization among the atoms and molecules in these galactic cores. Ionization refers to the act of atoms or molecules losing or gaining electrons.

This ionization within galaxies is influenced by multiple factors—ranging from shockwaves permeating the galaxies to radiation emitted by colossal stars or from heated gas in accretion discs. In LINERs like NGC 3558, the atoms and molecules have either lost a single electron or maintained their complete set of electrons. The precise mechanism responsible for this modest level of ionization in LINERs remains a subject of ongoing debate within the astronomical community.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hubble Space Telescope

What is the main focus of the article?

The article primarily discusses an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope that features two galaxies, NGC 3558 and LEDA 83465. These galaxies are part of the Abell 1185 galaxy cluster and are in close proximity to each other. The text further elaborates on the characteristics and mysteries surrounding low-ionization nuclear emission-line regions (LINERs).

Which galaxies are featured in the Hubble Space Telescope image?

The Hubble Space Telescope image prominently features two galaxies: NGC 3558, which is located in the lower left corner, and LEDA 83465, situated in the upper right.

What is Abell 1185?

Abell 1185 is a densely populated and tumultuous galaxy cluster. Within this cluster, galaxies are in close proximity and frequently interact with each other through gravitational forces.

What is a LINER and why is it significant?

A LINER, or Low-Ionization Nuclear Emission-Line Region, is a specialized type of galactic nucleus. LINERs are characterized by their unique chemical signatures in the light they emit, indicating either weak ionization or no ionization of atoms and molecules within these galactic cores.

How far are NGC 3558 and LEDA 83465 from Earth?

Both NGC 3558 and LEDA 83465 are approximately 450 million light-years away from Earth.

Why is the ionization level in LINERs like NGC 3558 considered ‘weak’?

The ionization level in LINERs like NGC 3558 is considered ‘weak’ because many of the atoms and molecules within these galactic cores have either lost only a single electron or have retained all their electrons.

What are the driving factors for ionization in galaxies?

Ionization in galaxies is driven by a variety of factors, including shockwaves traveling through the galaxies, radiation from massive stars, and from hot gas in accretion discs.

Is there consensus within the astronomical community about what causes the weak ionization in LINERs?

No, the precise mechanism responsible for the modest level of ionization in LINERs is still a subject of ongoing debate within the astronomical community.

More about Hubble Space Telescope

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7 comments

GalacticGuru October 9, 2023 - 8:13 am

Abell 1185 sounds like a chaotic neighborhood! Would be cool to understand how gravity plays out in such crowded spaces.

Reply
SkyWatcher October 9, 2023 - 3:38 pm

Can’t wrap my head around those huge numbers. We’re talking about light-years here. Just shows how small we really are in the grand scheme of things.

Reply
SpaceLover October 9, 2023 - 4:23 pm

That’s nuts, NGC 3558 basically ate other galaxies to become what it is now? Survival of the fittest, even in space!

Reply
JaneDoe October 9, 2023 - 5:35 pm

Wow, can’t believe how close those galaxies are, especially considering they’re part of a larger cluster. Makes you wonder what other mysteries the universe has, right?

Reply
TechieTom October 10, 2023 - 12:52 am

the ionization part got me hooked. How can these processes be so complex and still not fully understood? Science man, it’s always evolving.

Reply
CuriousGeorge October 10, 2023 - 4:39 am

450 million light-years away from Earth and yet we can capture such detailed images? Hubble telescope is just amazing!

Reply
AstroFan101 October 10, 2023 - 5:16 am

Didn’t know much bout LINERs before but this was a good intro. Kinda curious about the debate among astronomers though. Any leads on that?

Reply

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