No matter how huge the Universe is and no matter how fast it expands in every conceivable direction, you can often hear about the collision of galaxies with each other. Today we present to you a simulated image taken by those in charge of the Gemini North telescope (Hawaii), which allows us to see a curious formation called the Cosmic Butterfly.“, an extraordinary event that reminds us of the remarkable images of galaxy mergers published by NASA.

The real names of these galaxies are NGC 4567 and NGC 4568. Of course, their nickname has a very clear reason, and it is the curious shape that is the product of their merging process. They are located about 60 million light years from the Virgo supercluster, like the Milky Way.

This merging process, when completed, will result in the formation of an elliptical galaxy.. When? The NOIRLab astronomers who run Gemini North have calculated that in about 500 million years we will be able to observe a complete merger. The fate is that our Milky Way will also live on when it merges with the Andromeda galaxy in about 5,000 million years.

This is one of the most powerful and spectacular events that can happen in the universe. Due to the attraction of their gravitational fields, both galaxies will join the dance where they collide and move away in a final cycle until one much larger and denser body is formed.

What are the consequences of the merger of two galaxies?

Model showing the merger of two galaxies

Although both spiral shapes are still clearly visible in the Gemini North image, this will not continue forever. Actually, both galaxies will go through a process of destruction of their internal structurescausing their arms to disappear in a spiral as gravity causes them to merge.

Of course, clouds of gas and dust from both bodies will collide, offering an excellent opportunity for the birth of new stars in the newly formed galaxy. However, after the rapid growth in the birth rate of new celestial objects, everything will cool down and calm down, and we will get an elliptical galaxy, similar to others swarming in the Universe.

Studying these galaxies in the process of merging will allow scientists to study how this event occurs. In fact, computer simulations of the merger between NGC 4568 and NGC 4567 have already been created, giving us an idea of ​​a process that will take hundreds of millions of years.

at the moment, NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 are still about 20,000 light years away. one from the other. By astronomical standards, this is a fairly short time, but for us it is about three-quarters of the distance from Earth to the center of the Milky Way.

Source: Hiper Textual

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