During rare merging events, galaxies undergo dramatic changes in their appearance and star content. These systems are excellent laboratories for tracking the formation of star clusters in extreme physical conditions.
The Milky Way usually forms star clusters with masses that are 10,000 times the mass of our Sun. This is not comparable to the masses of star clusters formed in colliding galaxies that can reach the mass of our Sun millions of times.
These dense star systems are also very luminous. Even after the collision, when the resulting galactic system begins to fade into a calmer phase, these very massive star clusters will shine throughout their galaxy as long-term witnesses to past merging events.
By studying the six mergers of galaxies shown here, Hubble’s study of the extreme environment and clusters (HiPEEC) examines how stellar clusters are affected during collisions by rapid changes that dramatically increase the rate at which new stars form in these galaxies. Hubble’s capabilities made it possible to resolve large star-forming “nodes” in a number of compact young star clusters. Ultraviolet and Hubble’s near-infrared observations of these systems have been used to extract the age, mass, and disappearance of star clusters and to analyze the rate of star formation in these six merging galaxies.
The HiPEEC study reveals that populations of stellar clusters undergo large and rapid variations in their properties, with the most massive clusters forming towards the end of the fusion phase.
The Milky Way Galaxy “Back Designed”
Aamo et al., Formation of stellar clusters in the most extreme environments: insights from the HiPEEC study, Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2020). DOI: 10.1093 / mnras / staa2380
Provided by ESA / Hubble Information Center
Quote: When Galaxies Collide: Hubble shows six beautiful galaxy mergers (2021, January 7) extracted on January 8, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-galaxies-collide-hubble- showcases-beautiful.html
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