Get ready for fireworks
Jun 29, 2016
An international team of researchers, including UW-Madion's very own Jay Gallagher, used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the galaxy Kiso 5639 (shown in the image above; credit: NASA/Elmegreen), a member of the so-called class of tadpole galaxies. The name stems from their flattened shape with a bright "head" leading to one side. From studying the distribution of metals, they find that the galaxy is growing rapidly be eating "pristine" gas at one end and turning it into stars, which then pollute the gas on the other end of the galaxy with heavy elements they cooked up. Those young, forming stars, stud the galaxy with brilliant sources of ultra-violet radiation, making it the sparkly firework seen in the image.
Jay Gallagher, co-author of the study, puts it this way: "The sky rocket appearance of this galaxy reflects how star formation can be energized through interactions with their environment, which is one reason why astronomers no longer view galaxies as separated 'islands' in an otherwise empty universe." Read more in the NASA/Hubble press release.