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Chandra image of NGC 4261 and trail of compact objects
Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Zezas et al.


Skidmarks

Though space is largely empty, sometimes the universal highway gets crowded. At some intersections, gravity may cause collisions on a galactic scale. One such collision happened between two spiral galaxies long ago. Though the wreckage has been mostly cleared away and the two spirals hidden away in a rather mundane elliptical galaxy called NGC 4261, signs of the accident can still be seen. The image above shows an X-ray image of NGC 4261 taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra's X-ray view reveals a halo of X-ray bright neutron stars and black holes, which astronomers believe represent the "skidmarks" of the collision.


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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:25:30 EDT