Tags: cannibal | galaxy

Cannibal Galaxy Gets Bigger by Gobbling Up Galactic Neighbors

Image: Cannibal Galaxy Gets Bigger by Gobbling Up Galactic Neighbors
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By    |   Friday, 15 Apr 2016 07:32 AM

A cannibal galaxy has been spotted in a gathering of stars that form the Fornax Cluster, using its considerable gravitational force to swallow up smaller nearby galaxies.

The image of what astronomers believe to be the galactic cannibal galaxy was taken by the VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chili, according to CNN. Researchers believe the center of the Fornax Cluster is 65 million light-years from Earth.

The cannibal galaxy, named NGC 1399, looks like other galaxies except it is bigger and has faint envelopes extending from it, said a European Southern Observatory news release.

"This is because they have grown by swallowing smaller galaxies drawn by gravity towards the center of the cluster," the observatory said. "Indeed, there is evidence that this process is happening before our eyes – if you look closely enough." 

"… Despite there being little evidence for ongoing interactions in the Fornax Cluster overall, it seems that NGC 1399 at least is still feeding on its neighbors." 

Enrica Iodice, lead author of a study on the Fornax Cluster, told Inverse.com that the cannibalism process is one in which "the stronger fighter wins."


"The cD galaxy at the center of a cluster (such as NGC 1399 in Fornax) is a very massive object," Iodice told Inverse.com. "This merging process ends when the 'fuel' runs out, namely when there are no more systems to be eaten and the cluster is changed into a supergalaxy."

Inverse.com said Fornax is made up of a cluster of nearly 60 large galaxies being pulled together by the gravity from large amounts of dark matter and the galaxies themselves. Iodice told the website it is difficult to know where cluster masses like Fornax begin and end because of their immense size in space.

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A cannibal galaxy has been spotted in a gathering of stars that form the Fornax Cluster, using its considerable gravitational force to swallow up smaller nearby galaxies.
cannibal, galaxy
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2016-32-15
Friday, 15 Apr 2016 07:32 AM
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