Columbia: Pairs of Small Colliding Galaxies May Seed Future Stars

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Columbia: Pairs of Small Colliding Galaxies May Seed Future Stars

Post by bystander » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:38 pm

Pairs of Small Colliding Galaxies May Seed Future Stars
Columbia University | 2018 Aug 10

Study Highlights Role of Dwarf-Galaxy Mergers in Refueling Other Galaxies with Gas

A pair of dwarf galaxies closely circling the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, were in the throes of merging into one when they fell into our galaxy. The duo is thought to hold enough gas to replenish half of the Milky Way’s supply of star-making fuel, and now, a study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society offers new insights into how galaxies like ours are able to capture this gas so easily. ...

Home to millions of stars, dwarf galaxies are outshined by bigger galaxies like the Milky Way with hundreds to thousands of times more stars. But what dwarf galaxies lack in brightness, they make up for in their sheer abundance of star-making fuel. The hydrogen gas swirling through the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and dwarf galaxies like them are thought to play a key role in birthing new stars and other small galaxies.

To explore the star-making potential of dwarf galaxy pairs, a research team led by then-Columbia graduate student Sarah Pearson turned to a remote pair — NGC 4490 and NGC 4485 — 23 million light years away. Similar to the Large Magellanic Cloud, NGC 4490 is several times larger than its companion galaxy. But its isolated location allowed the researchers to simulate its eventual merger with NGC 4485 without interference from the Milky Way’s gravitational pull. ...

Modeling the Baryon Cycle in Low Mass Galaxy Encounters: The Case of NGC 4490 & NGC 4485 - Sarah Pearson et al
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