Hubble captures dazzling ‘jellyfish galaxy’ 900 million light-years away
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured a jellyfish galaxy which lies more than 900 million light-years away.
Known as JW39, the galaxy is located in the constellation Coma Berenices.
It is one of several jellyfish galaxies that the observatory has been studying over the course of the past two years.
The jellyfish galaxy may appear serene, but NASA noted it is adrift in a “ferociously hostile” galaxy cluster.
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Galaxies in galaxy clusters are often distorted by the gravitational pull of larger galaxies in the region, which can twist them into a multitude of shapes.
Notably, the space between such cluster galaxies is also permeated with hot plasma.
The plasma is known as the intracluster medium.
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Galaxies moving through the plasma do so like swimmers battling a strong current.
This encounter – also known as “ram-pressure stripping” – can strip galaxies of star-forming gas, the agency said.
Ram-pressure stripping is what creates the tendrils extending outward from this jellyfish galaxy.
A separate image of JO204, another galaxy, shows similar ribbons of gas due to ram-pressure stripping.
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The pressure of the intracluster medium stripped away gas and dust from JW39 as it moved through the cluster, creating long ribbons of star formation that stretch away from the galaxy.
Astronomers used the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 to study the tendrils.
“Surprisingly, they found that star formation in the ‘tentacles’ of jellyfish galaxies was not noticeably different from star formation in the galaxy disk,” NASA said.