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The Cartwheel Galaxy

Picture of the Cartwheel Galaxy
The Cartwheel Galaxy

The Cartwheel Galaxy is a lenticular galaxy and ring galaxy located in the southern constellation Sculptor.

The galaxy lies at an approximate distance of 496 million light years from Earth. It is about 150,000 light years across in size, which makes it slightly larger than the Milky Way.
The galaxy’s unusual appearance resembles that of a wagon wheel and has earned it the nickname Cartwheel. The galaxy has been tidally distorted by a collision with another galaxy into the ring-and-hub or cartwheel structure for which it is known.

In the past, the Cartwheel Galaxy was a regular spiral galaxy until it collided with a smaller companion galaxy about 200 million years ago. When the smaller companion passed through the larger galaxy, the nearly head-on collision created an enormous shockwave through the Cartwheel Galaxy.

The shockwave travelled at high speeds, roughly 200,000 miles per hour, sweeping up dust and gas and triggering star forming activity around the galaxy’s central region. The galaxy’s centre itself was not affected, while the ring around the bright core is a starburst region.

Lying about 500 million light-years away in the constellation of Sculptor, the cartwheel shape of this galaxy is the result of a violent galactic collision. A smaller galaxy has passed right through a large disc galaxy and produced shock waves that swept up gas and dust — much like the ripples produced when a stone is dropped into a lake — and sparked regions of intense star formation (appearing blue). The outermost ring of the galaxy, which is 1.5 times the size of our Milky Way, marks the shock wave’s leading edge. This object is one of the most dramatic examples of the small class of ring galaxies.

The galaxy’s unusual appearance resembles that of a wagon wheel and has earned it the nickname Cartwheel. The galaxy has been tidally distorted by a collision with another galaxy into the ring-and-hub or cartwheel structure for which it is known.

In the past, the Cartwheel Galaxy was a regular spiral galaxy until it collided with a smaller companion galaxy about 200 million years ago. When the smaller companion passed through the larger galaxy, the nearly head-on collision created an enormous shockwave through the Cartwheel Galaxy.

The shockwave travelled at high speeds, roughly 200,000 miles per hour, sweeping up dust and gas and triggering star forming activity around the galaxy’s central region. The galaxy’s centre itself was not affected, while the ring around the bright core is a starburst region.

The galaxy’s spiral structure is now starting to re-emerge, with faint arms or spokes appearing between the galaxy’s nucleus and the outer ring.

The intruder galaxy that passed through the larger Cartwheel is one of the smaller galaxies seen near the Cartwheel in images. It is likely the galaxy that appears disrupted and shows evidence of new star forming activity and young blue stars. It could, however, be the other companion, which has no gas, as it could have been stripped of gas during the encounter.

 

https://www.constellation-guide.com/cartwheel-galaxy/

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