Last Updated: April 18, 2023, 04:56 IST
The brightness of Arp 220 in infrared light makes it an ideal target for the James Webb Space Telescope. (Image: NASA website)
Arp 220 is actually the merger of two spiral galaxies that began colliding about 700 million years ago, sparking an intense burst of star formation
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has captured a breathtaking view of Arp 220, an ultra-luminous infrared galaxy (ULIRG) located in the constellation of Serpens, 250 million light-years away from Earth.
Arp 220 is actually the merger of two spiral galaxies that began colliding about 700 million years ago, sparking an intense burst of star formation.
Today, Arp 220 is home to about 200 huge star clusters, residing in a densely packed, dusty region that is only about 5 percent of the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy.
The brightness of Arp 220 in infrared light makes it an ideal target for the James Webb Space Telescope.
In fact, the galaxy has a luminosity of more than a trillion suns, dwarfing the Milky Way’s more modest luminosity of about ten billion suns. This makes it the nearest ULIRG and the brightest of the three galactic mergers closest to Earth.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope previously revealed the cores of the parent galaxies 1,200 light-years apart, each with a rotating, star-forming ring emitting dazzling infrared light.
Webb’s view of Arp 220 shows the starburst feature that dominates the image, created by the glaring light that produces diffraction spikes.
In less than 500 light-years, previous radio telescope observations have revealed about 100 supernova remnants, making Arp 220 a fascinating target for further study.
The amount of gas in the small, densely packed region of Arp 220 is equivalent to all the gas in the entire Milky Way galaxy, indicating the importance of studying the galaxy’s formation and evolution.
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