‘Bumper Cars’ In Space: UA Professor To Present Hubble Telescope Image Jan. 9
January 5, 2001 - Filed under: Uncategorized
A lane of gas and star dust winds its way from the galaxy on the left and is caught by the gravity of the other galaxy after the two bumped into one another about 100 million years ago. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image on Oct. 25, 1999 during observation time awarded to Dr. William Keel, a University of Alabama professor of astronomy. Keel will present the image later today (Jan. 9, 2001) during a talk he will give to the American Astronomical Society in San Diego.
Astronomers refer to these galaxies as NGC 1410 and NGC 1409, respectively. Each is about half the size of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and is more than 300 million light-years away from Earth. Scientists are interested in the transfer of mass between the two galaxies, partly because of what it can tell them about star formation. This image is one of the clearest depictions of such a transfer. Keel says the galaxies are expected to continue bumping and moving apart until they finally merge – in about 200 million years.
Keel has been awarded observation time on Hubble 11 times and has been involved with projects using the space telescope’s data during each of its soon-to-be 11 years in space. He also spent three terms on the annual review panel that determines the projects for which Hubble is used.
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