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M86-NGC 4438 Galactic Complex in The Virgo Cluster | Mayall Telescope

M86-NGC 4438 Galactic Complex in The Virgo Cluster | Mayall Telescope

A deep new image of part of the Virgo cluster has revealed monumental tendrils of ionized hydrogen gas 400,000 light-years long connecting the elliptical galaxy M86 (right) and the disturbed spiral galaxy NGC 4438 (left). Taken with the wide-field Mosaic imager on the National Science Foundation’s 4-meter Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory using a filter that reveals the light from Hydrogen-alpha emission, the image and related spectroscopic measurements of the filament provide striking evidence of a previously unsuspected high-speed collision between the two galaxies. The red filaments in the image show H-alpha emission with low velocities (similar to the velocities of the two colliding galaxies M86 and NGC 4438). The green filaments seen near the edge-on spiral galaxy in the lower right (NGC 4388) show H-alpha emission with much higher velocities, suggesting that this galaxy might not be related to M86.

The Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope is a four-meter (158 inches) reflector telescope in Arizona named after Nicholas U. Mayall. It saw first light on February 27, 1973, and was the second-largest telescope in the world at that time.

Credit: Tomer Tal and Jeffrey Kenney/Yale University and NOAO/AURA/NSF

Release Date: Oct. 7, 2008

#NASA #Astronomy #Space #Science #Galaxies #M86 #EllipticalGalaxy #NGC4438 #SpiralGalaxy #VirgoCluster #Virgo #ComaBerenices #Constellations #Cosmos #Universe #KittPeakNationalObservatory #KPNO #MayallTelescope #Optical #Arizona #NSF #AURA #UnitedStates #STEM #Education

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