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27th May 2022 (6 Topics)

Hubble Space Telescope captures galactic ‘dancing duo’


Hubble telescope captured a "dancing duo" of galaxies interlocked in a "gravitation dance." The two galaxies are officially known as NGC 3227, a spiral galaxy, and NGC 3226, an elliptical galaxy.


Key Findings:

  • In a significant development, NASA has discovered a huge spiral galaxy that has been named NGC 3227.
  • According to NASA, this galaxy is wrapped in a “gravitational dance”, along with NGC 3226, believed to be an elliptical galaxy.
  • The two galaxies have been collectively called Arp 94.
  • Both galaxies are nearly 50 and 60 million light-years from Earth and are located in the constellation Leo.
  • The pair of galaxies is linked with faint tidal streams of gas and dust in its dance.
  • The space agency has further discovered that NGC 3227 is the Seyfert Galaxy.
  • This type of galaxy consists of a supermassive black hole at the centre and is an accrete metal which releases large amounts of radiation.
  • It is estimated that about 10 per cent of all galaxies may be Seyfert galaxies.

Why is Hubble observing these galaxies?

  • Hubble was looking at NGF 3227 and 3226 as part of a program to measure black hole masses by observing the dynamics of gas at the centers of bright galaxy clusters.
  • At the time, Hubble was observing the two galaxies to measure black hole masses.
  • Hubble assessed the dynamics of gas at the centre of bright galaxy clusters.
  • Currently, scientists are attempting to understand why galaxies in the universe are either star-forming powerhouses or devoid of any star-forming activity.
    • Young galaxies that form stars are usually spiral shaped, like our own Milky Way.
    • Elliptical galaxies are older galaxies with no star-making capabilities.
  • The NGC 3226 is currently in a transition stage, stuck in the middle of this life-cycle.
    • Scientists want to understand how a life-giving galaxy slips into a lifeless lull over time.

Hubble Space Telescope

  • It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble.
  • The observatory is the first major optical telescope to be placed in space and has made ground-breaking discoveries in the field of astronomy since its launch (into Low Earth orbit in 1990).
  • It is said to be the “most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope.”
  • It is a part of NASA's Great Observatories Program - a family of four space-based observatories, each observing the Universe in a different kind of light.
  • The other missions in the program include the visible-light Spitzer Space TelescopeCompton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CXO).

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