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Two galaxies play tug of war in this spectacular Hubble image

  Hubble NGC 4485 Irregular Galaxy on the Edge
NGC 4485, a galaxy that collides with its neighbor NGC 4490 and is located beyond the frame in the lower right corner of the image. ESA / Hubble, NASA

As galaxies move across the Universe, they sometimes interact and even collide when they are close enough together. In some cases, we can see evidence of nearby galactic neighbors in the effects on the shape and star production of a galaxy.

This is one such case recently captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 is located about 30 million light-years away from us in the constellation Canes Venatici (hunting dogs). Its unusual shape is due to the gravitational forces emanating from the nearby and much larger galaxy NGC 4490. You can not see NGC 4490 in this image because it's out of the frame at the bottom right of the image, but you can see the effect it had on the smaller NGC 4485.

NGC 4485 was pulled into an elongated shape by gravitational forces, and this disruption has also changed the way dust and gas are distributed throughout the galaxy. There are now lumps and streams of matter in which they were previously distributed more evenly across the room. This has resulted in a range of violent star activity, with many newborn hot blue stars to the right of the center of the image.

Sometimes two galaxies merge or collapse, but not in this case. The galaxies have come as close as they approach each other and are now moving away from each other, creating a "tug of war" with both sides pulling at the material between them.

This tug-of-war has caused the two galaxies to be connected by a 25,000 light-year-long stream of matter consisting of both gas pockets and regions of star formation. However, the stars born here will not survive long, as they are so bright and energetic that they quickly burn their entire fuel.

However, this is not a purely destructive process because the event will enrich the environment's local cosmic environment with heavy elements and distribution of material that will later become the next generation of stars.

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