Home
 Space Photos - SEARCH
 Frequently Asked Questions
 New
 Hubble - APOD Selections
 Earth from Space Photos
 Robert Gendler Photos
 Apollo Gemini Mercury Photos
 Top 50
 Space Shuttle - Space Station Photos
 Recent Requests
 Spitzer Photos
 More Hubble Photos
 Astronaut Crew Portraits
 Chandra Catalog
 Planet Photos
 Comets - Asteroids
 Other Astronomy Photos
 Sun Photos
 Links I Use
 Gift Certificates
 Videos
 
 Show Order
 Help
 Index
 



Click to enlargeHubble Cartwheel Galaxy Photo

Buy the Cartwheel Galaxy space photo. High quality Hubble picture, slide, or Duratrans backlit transparency. NASA photograph H95-02 . Wide variety of sizes.
Click to see selection as Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) - July 2, 1995


A rare and spectacular head-on collision between two galaxies appears in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope true-color image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, located 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. The new details of star birth resolved by Hubble provide an opportunity to study how extremely massive stars are born in large fragmented gas clouds.

The striking ring-like feature is a direct result of a smaller intruder galaxy -- possibly one of two objects to the right of the ring -- that careened through the core of the host galaxy. Like a rock tossed into a lake, the collision sent a ripple of energy into space, plowing gas and dust in front of it. Expanding at 200,000 miles per hour, this cosmic tsunami leaves in its wake a firestorm of new star creation. Hubble resolves bright blue knots that are gigantic clusters of newborn stars and immense loops and bubbles blown into space by exploding stars (supernovae) going off like a string of firecrackers.

The Cartwheel Galaxy presumably was a normal spiral galaxy like our Milky Way before the collision. This spiral structure is beginning to re-emerge, as seen in the faint arms or spokes between the outer ring and bulls-eye shaped nucleus. The ring contains at least several billion new stars that would not normally have been created in such a short time span and is so large (150,000 light-years across) our entire Milky Way Galaxy would fit inside.

Hubble's new view does not solve the mystery as to which of the two small galaxies might have been the intruder. The blue galaxy is disrupted and has new star formation which strongly suggests it is the interloper. However, the smoother-looking companion has no gas, which is consistent with the idea that gas was stripped out of it during passage through the Cartwheel Galaxy.

The picture was taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera-2 on October 16, 1994. It is a combination of two images, taken in blue and near-infrared light.

January 10, 1995
Credit: Kirk Borne (ST ScI), and NASA


H95-02
Select Size: 
Surface: 
Follow SpaceImages on Twitter
Want to receive email updates? Click here.
Questions or Comments? Click here to send e-mail.