Galaxies in Collision

One good result from a crashed hard drive is
that I happened on a site new to me with great graphics for

A positive result from my hard drive crash is the discovery of a great website with really interesting astronomy graphics. It’s the Chandra X-ray Telescope site at Harvard. It’s humbling to admit that I haven’t ventured onto the site before.

But that aside, the site has compelling images taken by Chandra, some of which rival the beauty of the older and more widely known Hubble telescope.

This animation of galaxies in collision is a remarkable computer-generated view of what physicists and astronomers believe happens when two galaxies come within proximity and affect each’s gravitational field. Chandra has captured the still image to the left of such a collision. However, the image doesn’t explain the strange, twisted shape that results as clearly as the animation. Seeing the galaxies dismantle each other in the animation is fascinating and instructive.

The Milky Way and our closest neighbor Andromeda (M31) are moving toward one another and scientists say in several billion years the two galaxies will enter into this chaotic spiral of destruction and re-formation.

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