There are several fairly beautiful examples of galaxies colliding and forming larger, more massive, galaxies.
Hubble has take a few of the more dramatic ones.
A new image from the ESO’s 2.2-metre La Silla Observatory telescope in Chile shows two galaxies about to hit each other. Of course, none of us will be around, “soon” in galactic terms is relative. Anyway, NGC 1316 and NGC 1317 are about to face off in a galactic gravitational gala like never before. Unfortunately for NGC 1317, his bigger cousin has already swallowed a couple of other galaxies, so the outcome of this event doesn’t look promising for the small galaxy.
You can see the remnants of the other galaxies the NGC 1316 ate along the way. The streaming trail of star is a dead give-away to galaxy eating, like the trail left by NGC 3628 in the famous Leo Triplet.
Other give aways are stars orbiting against the tide of the galactic rotation. Kind of like salmon swimming upstream.
It will be interesting to observe how these two galaxies start interacting with one another, it will shed a light on a great deal. But in the end, NGC 1317 is toast.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +