Hubble Views a Galactic Waterfall


Oct. 23, 2020

Galactic waterspout

In this spectacular image captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the galaxy NGC 2799 (on the left) is seemingly being pulled into the center of the galaxy NGC 2798 (on the right). 

Interacting galaxies, such as these, are so named because of the influence they have on each other, which may eventually result in a merger or a unique formation. Already, these two galaxies have seemingly formed a sideways waterspout, with stars from NGC 2799 appearing to fall into NGC 2798 almost like drops of water. 

Galactic mergers can take place over several hundred million to over a billion years. While one might think the merger of two galaxies would be catastrophic for the stellar systems within, the sheer amount of space between stars means that stellar collisions are unlikely and stars typically drift past each other.

Text credit: European Space Agency (ESA)
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, SDSS, J. Dalcanton; Acknowledgment: Judy Schmidt (Geckzilla)
 Last Updated: Oct. 23, 2020Editor: Lynn Jenner

28 thoughts on “Hubble Views a Galactic Waterfall

  1. I suppose that the Astronomers have a good reason for concluding that the two galaxies are “interacting” with each other, rather than this apparent interaction being the result of them being in nearly the same line of sight?

    I could readily imagine that the galaxy to the left – apparently bent – is in fact showing the top half of a much larger galaxy, while the centre and bottom half is obscured by the ‘dark matter’ that astronomers are so fond of.

    There seems to be little distortion of the galaxy on the right – perhaps because there is none?

      • No, they can’t…

        They can’t even get a nearby star Polaris right. The massive 57% range of 330 lights years to 521 lights years? Six different measurements?

        We haven’t a clue how far anything is…

        • Try 323 light years. It’s a Cepheid variable, so one of the easier stars to measure distance to.

          • LOL. I just typed the question into Bing: How far to star Polaris? The answer: 433.79 light years. That’s 33% farther than 323. Luckily we’re only talking light years. Yet, a hundred here and a hundred there… pretty soon we’re talking large distances!

    • the sheer amount of space between stars means that stellar collisions are unlikely and stars typically drift past each other.

      But I thought all that “empty space” was full of dark matter now.

      What happens when all the dark matter from one galaxy collides with all the dark matter from the other one? Does it get even darker ? Ha ha ha !

  2. Just happened to be looking at the night sky at 6:40 pm Chicago time 10/24/2020.
    Saw a “string of pearls” meteor do a drive-by. it was visible for a good 45 seconds.
    First time for me 🙂

    • You’re sure it wasn’t the results of a SpaceX launch?
      Some people get to have input regarding a line of windmills being put up near where they live, yet we never got to vote on SpaceX littering the sky with satellites.

  3. My models irrefutably show that the extra CO2 humans are producing is making the planet heavier. This will drag us out of our orbit and end up with us colliding with a nearby star.

    This is undeniable physics. I can show in laboratory conditions that CO2 is a heavy gas, and that increased weight will increase the gravitational attraction between us and Alpha Centauri.

    Do not ignore the science! Send money NOW!!!

    • Thanks to the climate change farce, trillions are already being sent more or less in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri.

  4. What amazes me are all the galaxies in the background each with millions of stars. And this is just a tiny part of the night sky.

  5. Hubble is worth every penny we spent on it.

    We need much larger telescopes in orbit so we can zoom in on those galaxies and other phenomenon.

    NASA just signed contracts worth about $370 million to various space development companies, including Elon’s, for development of technologies to enable us to move around in orbit once we get up there. In other words, NASA is taking the very first steps towards developing orbital transfer vehicles. I wonder if any of them are working on steam as a method of propelling an orbital transfer vehicle? They should. There’s a lot of water in the Earth/Moon system. Water is pretty easy to handle as compared to other means of propulsion.

    With an orbital transfer vehicle, we could revisit the Hubble when it starts deteriorating too much and give it some new life. And we can build bigger telescopes in orbit and place them at optimum positions using an orbital transfer vehicle.

    We can transfer humans between low-Earth orbit and the Moon using orbital transfer vehicles.

    I’m sure glad to see NASA heading in this direction. It’s just what the doctor ordered. NASA’s administrator, Mr. Bridenstein, is doing a good job.

      • I was thinking more about the water on the Moon and a time when we actually have a water mining operation on the Moon.

        It is expensive to lift water from the Earth to orbit, but it’s expensive to lift anything from Earth to orbit. When space development in the Earth/Moon system gets going we will want to focus on lifting water from the Moon to orbit.

        Then we could have a lot of “steam rockets” zooming around the Earth/Moon system.

        There is at least one company that is working on using water in an orbital transfer vehcle, but the name escapes me now. They referred to their design as a “flying tea kettle”.

    • I wonder what happend to Skylon? It was a Single-Stage-To-Orbit machine that promised to do heavy lifting into space. Unfortunately it wasn’t invented in the US, and it was not a conventional rocket, so there were no champions for it…

  6. Some say the Milky Way will be “destroyed” when it collides w/Andromeda in a couple billion years. Uh, no, it’s part of the natural galactic growth cycle and the Milky Way/Andromeda combination just becomes a bigger galaxy. Of course, that will cause alot of galactic “events” that will disrupt some stellar systems, but that’s going on in active regions now. They’ll just be more active regions.

    • Yes but can you imagine how high our sea level will be in a couple of billion years?

      If Al Gore is right it will be billions of meters higher than it is today. It will have already downed the moon and put the sun out. ( If the current trend continues ).

  7. The stars themselves may not collide, but any close encounters would be devastating for any planetary systems the two stars may have.

    • Close encounters will happen (they can happen right now), but considering the distance between stars, will still be rare.

  8. 1. Alpha Centauri is fast approaching and may get as close to us as 3.6 light years before it starts to go away. We must take action now to prevent it.

    2. Apparently our galaxy is on a collusion course with our neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. The collusion may start to happen in as little as 2 billion years. We must tack action now to stop that from happening.

    3. Our entire cluster of galaxies is being affected by the great attractor with unknown consequences. We must take action now to prevent the Virgo Super Cluster from getting any closer to the great attractor than it actually is.

    4. Our sun is in the process of changing with the possibility of dire consequences billions of years from now. We must take action now to stop the sun from changing.

  9. Critical Galactic Theory:
    One can’t help but notice that the big racist galaxy on the far right is a white galaxy and that it has enslaved the beautiful galaxy of color and is stealing the very essence of the goc’s existence. We must tear down and rebuild the Hubble so that it will reveal a more just universe.

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