Galaxy cluster spotted ripping spiral galaxy
A new Hubble image shows spiral galaxy ESO 137-001, framed against a bright background as it moves through the heart of galaxy cluster Abell 3627, which is violently ripping the spiral's entrails out into space, leaving bright blue streaks behind.
This new Hubble image shows ESO 137-001, a galaxy located in the southern constellation of Triangulum Australe.
The streaks are actually hot young stars, encased in wispy streams of gas that are being torn away from the galaxy by its surroundings as it moves through space.
This violent galactic disrobing is due to a process known as ram pressure stripping - a drag force felt by an object moving through a fluid.
The image also shows other telltale signs of this process, such as the curved appearance of the disc of gas and dust -- a result of the forces exerted by the heated gas.
The cluster's drag may be strong enough to bend ESO 137-001, but in this cosmic tug-of-war the galaxy's gravitational pull is strong enough to hold on to the majority of its dust - although some brown streaks of dust displaced by the stripping are visible.
(Posted on 05-03-2014)