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Why Do Some Galactic Unions Lead to Doom?

Why Do Some Galactic Unions Lead to Doom?

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Three
images from our Spitzer Space Telescope show pairs of galaxies on the cusp
of cosmic consolidations. Though the galaxies appear separate now, gravity is
pulling them together, and soon they will combine to form new, merged galaxies.
Some merged galaxies will experience billions of years of growth. For others,
however, the merger will kick off processes that eventually halt star
formation, dooming the galaxies.

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Only
a few percent of galaxies in the nearby universe are merging, but galaxy
mergers were more common between 6 billion and 10 billion years ago, and these
processes profoundly shaped our modern galactic landscape. Scientists study
nearby galaxy mergers and use them as local laboratories for that earlier
period in the universe’s history. The survey has focused on 200 nearby objects,
including many galaxies in various stages of merging.

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Merging
galaxies in the nearby universe appear especially bright to infrared
observatories like Spitzer. In these images, different colors correspond to
different wavelengths of infrared light, which are not visible to the human
eye. Blue corresponds to 3.6 microns, and green corresponds to 4.5 microns –
both strongly emitted by stars. Red corresponds to 8.0 microns, a wavelength
mostly emitted by dust.

Read
more: https://go.nasa.gov/2VioFB0.

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