Cartwheel Galaxy composite
Credit: Composite: NASA/JPL/Caltech/P.Appleton et al. X-ray: NASA/CXC/A.Wolter & G.Trinchieri et al.

Head over Wheel

The Cartwheel Galaxy is one of nature's spectacular objects: a cosmic collision in which a small galaxy punched a hole through a much larger galaxy. During this collision, individual stars (likely) did not hit one another. Instead, the energy of the collision produced waves in the interstellar medium like a penny landing in a puddle. These waves gave rise to the spoke-like distribution of the interstellar gas in the galaxy. The crests of these waves are regions of exceptionally high density where new stars are born. The composite image above shows a beautiful multi-wavelength view of the Cartwheel: an X-ray image by the Chandra X-ray Observatorys (purple); an ultraviolet view from the the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite (in blue); an optical image by the Hubble Space Telescope (in green); and an infrared view by the Spitzer Space Telescope (in red). These images probe all the different phases of this wonderful galaxy's evolution.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:25:29 EDT