Tags: colliding | galaxies | universe | gravitational lens

Colliding Galaxies on Display in Telescopic Images Thanks to Natural Lens

By    |   Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 10:32 AM

Colliding galaxies slamming into each other can be seen in new telescopic images thanks to a combination of powerful cosmic lenses and the perfect alignment of more than one universe, astronomers revealed this week.

Though one might think an intergalactic event as big as two galaxies ramming into one another wouldn't be hard to spot, scientists needed a little help to see the collision from Earth. That's where a natural occurrence called a gravitational lens comes into play.

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"While astronomers are often limited by the power of their telescopes, in some cases our ability to see detail is hugely boosted by natural lenses created by the universe," Hugo Messias, of the Universidad de Concepción in Chile and the Centro de Astronomia e Astrofísica da Universidade de Lisboa in Portugal, said in a statement, according to Forbes. 

"Einstein predicted in his theory of General Relativity that, given enough mass, light does not travel in a straight line but will be bent in a similar way to a normal lens."

According to CBS News, a gravitational lens happens when a giant, heavy object bends light from objects behind it due to its strong gravity, an effect that essentially puts a microscope up to something that would be otherwise invisible. 

Once the colliding galaxies were spotted, scientists used the Hubble, ALMA, the Keck Observatory, the VLA, and other telescopes to capture images of the rare occurrence, according to Forbes.

"These chance alignments are quite rare and tend to be hard to identify," Messias told Forbes, "but, recent studies have shown that by observing at far-infrared and millimeter wavelengths, we can find these cases much more efficiently."

Rob Ivison, director of science at the European Southern Observatory, told the Tech Times that the ALMA telescope allowed scientists to trace carbon monoxide and found that one of the galaxies was still rotating and creating new stars. 

"ALMA enabled us to solve this conundrum because it gives us information about the velocity of the gas in the galaxies, which makes it possible to disentangle the various components, revealing the classic signature of a galaxy merger," he said. "This beautiful study catches a galaxy merger red-handed as it triggers an extreme starburst."

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Colliding galaxies slamming into each other can be seen in new telescopic images thanks to a combination of powerful cosmic lenses and the perfect alignment of more than one universe, astronomers revealed this week.
colliding, galaxies, universe, gravitational lens
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2014-32-28
Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 10:32 AM
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