A tidal tail is a thin, elongated region of stars and interstellar gas that extends into space from a galaxy. Tidal tails occur as a result of galactic tide forces between interacting galaxies. Examples of galaxies with tidal tails include the Tadpole Galaxy and the Mice Galaxies. Tidal forces can eject a significant amount of a galaxy's gas into the tail; within the Antennae Galaxies, for example, nearly half of the observed gaseous matter is found within the tail structures.Within those galaxies which have tidal tails, approximately 10% of the galaxy's stellar formation takes place in the tail. Overall, roughly 1% of all stellar formation in the known universe occurs within tidal tails.
Some interacting galaxy pairs have two distinct tails, as is the case for the Antennae Galaxies, while other systems have only one tail. Most tidal tails are slightly curved due to the rotation of the host galaxies. Those that are straight may actually be curved but still appear to be straight if they are being viewed edge-on.
The phenomena now referred to as tidal tails were first studied extensively by Fritz Zwicky in 1953.Several astrophysicists expressed their doubts that these extensions could occur solely as the result of tidal forces, including Zwicky himself, who described his own views as "unorthodox". Boris Vorontsov-Velyaminov argued that the tails were too thin and too long (sometimes as large as 100,000 parsecs) to have been produced by gravity alone, as gravity should instead produce broad distortions. However, in 1972, renowned astronomer Alar Toomre proved that it was indeed tidal forces that were responsible for the tails.
NGC 5195 is a dwarf galaxy that is interacting with the Whirlpool Galaxy. Both galaxies are located approximately 25 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. Together, the two galaxies are one of the most famous interacting galaxy pairs.
A dark galaxy is a hypothesized galaxy with no, or very few, stars. They received their name because they have no visible stars, but may be detectable if they contain significant amounts of gas. Astronomers have long theorized the existence of dark galaxies, but there are no confirmed examples to date. Dark galaxies are distinct from intergalactic gas clouds caused by galactic tidal interactions, since these gas clouds do not contain dark matter, so they do not technically qualify as galaxies. Distinguishing between intergalactic gas clouds and galaxies is difficult; most candidate dark galaxies turn out to be tidal gas clouds. The best candidate dark galaxies to date include HI1225+01, AGC229385, and numerous gas clouds detected in studies of quasars.
The Cartwheel Galaxy (also known as ESO 350-40 or PGC 2248) is a lenticular galaxy and ring galaxy about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. It is an estimated 150,000 light-years diameter, and has a mass of about 2.9–4.8 × 109 solar masses; its outer ring has a circular velocity of 217 km/s.
NGC 4676, or the Mice Galaxies, are two spiral galaxies in the constellation Coma Berenices. About 290 million light-years away, they began the process of colliding and merging. Their name refers to the long tails produced by tidal action—the relative difference between gravitational pulls on the near and far parts of each galaxy—known here as a galactic tide. It is a possibility that both galaxies, which are members of the Coma cluster, have experienced collision, and will continue colliding until they coalesce.
NGC 520 is a pair of colliding spiral galaxies about 105 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. They were discovered by astronomer William Herschel on 13 December 1784.
The Eyes Galaxies are a pair of galaxies about 52 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. The pair are members of the string of galaxies known as Markarian's Chain.
NGC 6872, also known as the Condor Galaxy, is a large barred spiral galaxy of type SB(s)b pec in the constellation Pavo. It is 212 million light-years (65 Mpc) from Earth and is approximately five billion years old. NGC 6872 is interacting with the lenticular galaxy IC 4970, which is less than one twelfth as large. The galaxy has two elongated arms; from tip to tip, NGC 6872 measures 522,000 light-years (160,000 pc), making it one of the largest known spiral galaxies. It was discovered on 27 June 1835 by English astronomer John Herschel.
Palomar 12 is a globular cluster in the constellation Capricornus.
Galaxy mergers can occur when two galaxies collide. They are the most violent type of galaxy interaction. The gravitational interactions between galaxies and the friction between the gas and dust have major effects on the galaxies involved. The exact effects of such mergers depend on a wide variety of parameters such as collision angles, speeds, and relative size/composition, and are currently an extremely active area of research. Galaxy mergers are important because the merger rate is a fundamental measurement of galaxy evolution. The merger rate also provides astronomers with clues about how galaxies bulked up over time.
A galactic tide is a tidal force experienced by objects subject to the gravitational field of a galaxy such as the Milky Way. Particular areas of interest concerning galactic tides include galactic collisions, the disruption of dwarf or satellite galaxies, and the Milky Way's tidal effect on the Oort cloud of the Solar System.
Alar Toomre is an American astronomer and mathematician. He is a professor of applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Toomre's research is focused on the dynamics of galaxies. He is a 1984 MacArthur Fellow.
Arp 104, also known as Keenan's system, is entry 104 in Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies catalog for spiral galaxy NGC 5216 and globular galaxy NGC 5218. The two galaxies are joined by a bridge of galactic material spanning 22 000 light years.
Galactic Bridges and Tails is a computer animation film created in 1972 by astrophysicists Alar Toomre and Juri Toomre. The brothers created the film as a teaching aid to accompany their 1972 landmark research paper of the same name, published in The Astrophysical Journal, which described galaxy collisions and galaxy mergers.
NGC 1614 is the New General Catalogue identifier for a spiral galaxy in the equatorial constellation of Eridanus. It was discovered on December 29, 1885 by American astronomer Lewis Swift, who described it in a shorthand notation as: pretty faint, small, round, a little brighter middle. The nebula was then catalogued by Danish-Irish astronomer J. L. E. Drayer in 1888. When direct photography became available, it was noted that this galaxy displayed some conspicuous peculiarities. American astronomer Halton Arp included it in his 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. In 1971, Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky described it as a "blue post-eruptive galaxy, compact patchy core, spiral plumes, long blue jet SSW".
NGC 2623/Arp 243 is an interacting galaxy located in the constellation Cancer. NGC 2623 is the result of two spiral galaxies that have merged. Scientists believe that this situation is similar to what will occur to the Milky Way, which contains our solar system, and the neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy in four billion years. Studying this galaxy and its properties have provided scientists with a better idea of the collision of the Milky Way and the Andromeda. Due to NGC 2623 being in the late stage of merging, the compression of the gas within the galaxy has led to a large amount of star formation, and to its unique structure of a bright core with two extending tidal tails.
NGC 3256 is a peculiar galaxy formed from the collision of two separate galaxies in the constellation of Vela. NGC 3256 is located about 100 million light years away and belongs to the Hydra-Centaurus supercluster complex. NGC 3256 provides a nearby template for studying the properties of young star clusters in tidal tails. The system hides a double nucleus and a tangle of dust lanes in the central region. The telltale signs of the collision are two extended luminous tails swirling out from the galaxy. The tails are studded with a particularly high density of star clusters. NGC 3256 is the most luminous galaxy in the infrared spectrum located within z 0.01 from Earth.
NGC 536 is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation Andromeda. It is located at a distance of circa 200 million light years from Earth, which, given its apparent dimensions, means that NGC 536 is about 180,000 light years across. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 13, 1784. It is a member of Hickson Compact Group 10, which also includes the galaxies NGC 529, NGC 531, and NGC 542. It belongs to the Perseus-Pisces Supercluster.
NGC 4294 is a barred spiral galaxy with flocculent spiral arms located about 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. The galaxy was discovered by astronomer William Herschel on March 15, 1784 and is a member of the Virgo Cluster.
NGC 4299 is a spiral galaxy located about 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. It was discovered by astronomer William Herschel on March 15, 1784 and is a member of the Virgo Cluster.
NGC 7592 is an interacting galaxy system located 300 million light years away in the constellation Aquarius. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 20, 1784. The total infrared luminosity is 1011.33 L☉, and thus it is categorised as a luminous infrared galaxy. One of the galaxies hosts a type 2 Seyfert nucleus.