Monday, March 20, 2023

Portrait of a Galactic Jellyfish: Galaxy JW100 | Hubble

Portrait of a Galactic Jellyfish: Galaxy JW100 | Hubble

The galaxy JW100 features prominently in this image from the NASA/European Space Agency Hubble Space Telescope, with streams of star-forming gas dripping from the disc of the galaxy like streaks of fresh paint. These tendrils of bright gas are formed by a process called ram pressure stripping, and their resemblance to dangling tentacles has led astronomers to refer to JW100 as a ‘jellyfish’ galaxy. It is located in the constellation Pegasus, over 800 million light-years away.

Image Description: A thin spiral galaxy is seen edge-on in the lower right. Its bulge and arms are very bright, mixing reddish and bluish light. Patchy blue trails extend below it, resembling tentacles, made from star-forming regions. Six small, reddish elliptical galaxies are scattered around. A very large elliptical galaxy with two cores sits by the top of the frame.

Ram pressure stripping occurs when galaxies encounter the diffuse gas that pervades galaxy clusters. As galaxies plough through this tenuous gas it acts like a headwind, stripping gas and dust from the galaxy and creating the trailing streamers that prominently adorn JW100. The bright elliptical patches in the image are other galaxies in the cluster that hosts JW100.

As well as JW100’s bright tendrils, this image also contains a remarkably bright area of diffuse light towards the top of this image which contains two bright blotches at its core. This is the core of IC 5338, the brightest galaxy in the galaxy cluster, known as a cD galaxy. It’s not unusual for cD galaxies to exhibit multiple nuclei, as they are thought to grow by consuming smaller galaxies, the nuclei of which can take a long time to be absorbed. The bright points of light studding its outer fringes are a rich population of globular clusters. 

This observation took advantage of the capabilities of Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, and is part of a sequence of observations designed to explore star formation in the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies. These tendrils represent star formation under extreme conditions, and could help astronomers understand the process of star formation elsewhere in the universe.

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gullieuszik and the GASP team 

Release Date: March 20, 2023

#NASA #Hubble #Astronomy #Space #Science #Galaxy #JW100 #Galaxies #IC 5337 #IC5338 #Pegasus #Constellation #Cosmos #Universe #HST #SpaceTelescope #ESA #Europe #GSFC #STScI #UnitedStates #STEM #Education

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