An incandescent stream of hydrogen gas emanates from the D100 spiral galaxy as it dives into the center of the gigantic cluster of Coma galaxies. You can see glowing blue groups of young stars near the center of the tail, where there is still enough hydrogen gas to fuel star formation.
Credit: Hubble image: NASA, ESA, M. Sun (University of Alabama) and W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University); Image of Subaru: M. Yagi (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured an extraordinary new vision of a spiral galaxy that roamed too close to the huge cluster of Coma galaxies and stripped of her gas.
The spiral galaxy, called D1
The tail of the galaxy is composed of dust and hydrogen gas. As the galaxy wades the intergalactic material surrounding the cluster, gas and dust are expelled from the galaxy. [Celestial Photos: Hubble Space Telescope’s Latest Cosmic Views]
Eventually, D100 will deplete the hydrogen gas, which the galaxy needs to form new stars, and it will become a dead relic, according to the statement.
"This galaxy stands out as a particularly extreme example of common processes in massive clusters, in which a galaxy goes from being a healthy spiral full of star formation to a red and dead galaxy," William Cramer, lead author of the study and researcher at Yale University in Connecticut, said in the statement. "The spiral arms disappear and the galaxy remains without gas and only old stars. This phenomenon has been known for several decades, but Hubble provides the best images of galaxies undergoing this process."
Researchers estimate that D100 has endured the process, also known as ram pressure stripping, for about 300 million years.
While D100 is one of many galaxies in this situation, one factor sets it apart from others that astronomers have seen and modeled: the D100's tail is much smoother and more defined than most such galaxies, according to the study.
"This is a surprise, because a tail like this is not seen in most computer simulations: most of the galaxies undergoing this process are more of a disaster, "said Jeffrey Kenney, a co-author of the study who is also at Yale University. . "Clean edges and stringy tail structures suggest that magnetic fields play a prominent role in modeling them. Computer simulations show that magnetic fields form filaments in the tail gas: without magnetic fields, the tail is thicker than the filamentary . "  Hubble data revealed that the gas stripping process began on the outer edges of the galaxy and is now moving towards the center. In the image also appeared hot blue lumps of young stars, with the brightest tufts in the center of the tail, where there is still enough hydrogen gas to fuel the star formation, according to the statement.
However, researchers have estimated that in just a few hundred million years D100 will completely lose its spiral structure and will consist only of old red stars. The results were published on January 8th in the Astrophysical Journal.