This week’s image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows a special and delightful cosmic object: a jellyfish galaxy. These galaxies are named after their larger main bodies with tendrils that float past them, like sea creatures.
This particular jellyfish galaxy is called JO201 and is located in the constellation of Cetus. Appropriately for the sea theme, Cetus is a constellation named after a Greek mythological sea monster that sometimes had the body of a whale or a serpent with the head of a boar. In the image, you can see the main body of the galaxy in the center, with the rear tendrils extending down the frame.
Jellyfish galaxies form due to an effect called ram pressure ejection, in which the gravity of other nearby objects like galaxies or galaxy clusters acts like a headwind, moving dust and gas from the galaxy and eliminating them in certain regions. This process can slow star formation in the galaxy because there is no longer enough dust or gas available to form new stars, and can even lead to the eventual death of the galaxy in question.
This image was taken using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument looking into both optical and ultraviolet wavelengths, to pick out all the important features of the galaxy, its dust and gas, and its tendrils. It was taken as part of research into jellyfish galaxies and how stars form there.
“This particular observation comes from a survey of the sizes, masses and ages of star-forming clusters in the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies,” the Hubble scientists said. to write. “Astronomers hope this will provide a breakthrough in understanding the link between ram pressure stripping – the process that creates the tendrils of jellyfish galaxies – and star formation.”