Astronomers Witness Sparkling Young Stars Birth From Inter-Galactic Collision
Jan 23, 2017 11:31 AM EST
Astronomers have spotted a large ring of young stars around the Large Magellanic Cloud, concluding that an intergalactic collision could have happened around the galactic neighbourhood. The birth of these new stars is high likely a result of the Small Magellanic Cloud smashing right through its' larger sibling.
Both, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are the considered to be the most radiant galaxies compared to the Milky Way family where more than 50 galaxies orbit each other. They are located just 160,000 and 200,000 light years away, respectively.
Right now, they are 75,000 light years apart. But they passed close together 200 million years ago. The Small Magellanic Cloud may even have smashed right through its big sibling.
Christian Moni Bidin, a professor at the Catholic University of the North in Antofagasta, Chile and his colleagues have identified what they believe to be the sparkling remains of this skirmish cloud - six young stars alongside the fringe of the Large Magellanic Cloud, each part of a vast ringing some 80,000 light years in diameter.
One star shines between the Magellanic clouds, where young stars were already known, but the other five reside where only older stars had been spotted. These young stars at the galaxy's edge even share the same speed as the older stars there, indicating that the youngsters belong to the galaxy.
Moni Bidin, who calls it a surprising discovery, said that there was supposedly no absolute indication of recent star formation in this region. David Nidever of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona thinks so, too. "Its quite an interesting and plausible result," he says.
It is high likely that a collision between the two galaxies would have compressed their gas, making it collapse and spark young stars. Nidever explains that the time lag between the galactic encounter 200 million years ago and the subsequent star birth is reasonable, considering the fact that the stars are between 10 to 50 million years old.
The six stars are all hot, blue, and glowing, making them much evident to the eyes. Moni Bidin who suspects that the ring could be harbouring additional young stars, believes that there are probably more fainter stars that are yet to be seen.