The research team at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)*, a joint venture between and the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University, have found that the speed at which stars form during a galaxy collision depends on how more or less massive the galaxy is compared to the galaxy it is colliding with.
Previously, astronomers believed two colliding galaxies both increase their stellar birth rate at similar rates compared to galaxies that remained separate. According to a study of more than 20,000 merging galaxies, this is only the case if the two galaxies are similar in mass. However, when one of the galaxies significantly outweighs the other, the ‘giant’ galaxy begins rapidly forming new stars, whereas the ‘dwarf’ has trouble making any at all.
The findings may have significant implications on star formation within our own Milky Way galaxy, which appears to be on a collision course with the nearby Andromeda galaxy. The two neighbours are moving toward each other at 400,000 kilometers per hour. Not to fear, the astronomers predicted they won’t collide for another (estimated) four billion years.
*ICRAR is supported and and funded by the State Government of Western Australia.
[img source] NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CCA2.0)
[vid source] International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
The above story is based on materials provided by the University of Western Australia