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The Tadpole galaxy

 

Astronomical photogaph of Tadpole Galaxy

         420 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Draco the Hubble Space Telescope recorded this disrupted spiral galaxy against a stunning background of thousands of more distant galaxies. Alternately called the Tadpole galaxy, UGC 10214, or Arp 188, it consists of billions of solar systems and has a 280,000 light-year-long tail. One theory for the tail’s formation is that an intruder galaxy (seen upper left through the foreground spiral arms and about 300,000 light years beyond) crossed in front of the Tadpole from left to right, and then by gravitational influence was slung around behind it. The gravitational tidal forces in this billion-year encounter drew out the galaxy's stars, gas and dust forming a tail three times the length of our entire Milky Way galaxy. In keeping with its earthly namesake the Tadpole galaxy will probably lose its tail over the next few hundred million years as the tail's star clusters form smaller satellites of the Tadpole's head.

         The galactic wreckage and cascade of star births depicted above is playing out in front of a spectacular background of 6000 galaxies, twice the number discovered by Hubble's famous 1995 Hubble Deep Field. This picture of the galaxy UGC 10214 was also taken by Hubble, but in this case by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), installed aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in March 2002. This ACS image was taken in one-twelfth the time it took to observe the 1995 Hubble Deep Field, because in blue light ACS sees even fainter objects than were seen in the Deep Field. Like those in the Deep Field, the galaxies in this ACS picture stretch back to nearly the beginning of time, and are literally fossils of the universe's 14-billion-year life. APODs :November 8,2012, January 8, 2006 and May 15, 2004. This is the 8"x10½" image on page 221 in You and the Universe.

 

 

 

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© Carl Woebcke: The Tadpole Galaxy, 1991-2017. All rights reserved.