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.
A star is type of astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many other stars are visible to the naked eye from Earth during the night, appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points in the sky due to their immense distance from Earth. Historically, the most prominent stars were grouped into constellations and asterisms, the brightest of which gained proper names. Astronomers have assembled star catalogues that identify the known stars and provide standardized stellar designations. However, most of the estimated 300 sextillion (3×1023) stars in the Universe are invisible to the naked eye from Earth, including all stars outside our galaxy, the Milky Way.
A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias (γαλαξίας), literally "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass.
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.
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.
Fritz Zwicky was a Swiss astronomer. He worked most of his life at the California Institute of Technology in the United States of America, where he made many important contributions in theoretical and observational astronomy. In 1933, Zwicky was the first to use the virial theorem to infer the existence of unseen dark matter, describing it as "dunkle Materie".
Boris Aleksandrovich Vorontsov-Velyaminov was a Soviet/Russian astrophysicist. His name is sometimes given as Vorontsov-Vel'yaminov.
The parsec is a unit of length used to measure large distances to astronomical objects outside the Solar System. A parsec is defined as the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond, which corresponds to 648000/π astronomical units. One parsec is equal to about 3.26 light-years. The nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is about 1.3 parsecs from the Sun. Most of the stars visible to the unaided eye in the night sky are within 500 parsecs of the Sun.
A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbit a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. The name of this category of star cluster is derived from the Latin globulus—a small sphere. A globular cluster is sometimes known more simply as a globular.
A starburst galaxy is a galaxy undergoing an exceptionally high rate of star formation, as compared to the long-term average rate of star formation in the galaxy or the star formation rate observed in most other galaxies. For example, the star formation rate of the Milky Way galaxy is approximately 3 M☉/yr, however, starburst galaxies can experience star formation rates that are more than a factor of 100 times greater. In a starburst galaxy, the rate of star formation is so large that the galaxy will consume all of its gas reservoir, from which the stars are forming, on a timescale much shorter than the age of the galaxy. As such, the starburst nature of a galaxy is a phase, and one that typically occupies a brief period of a galaxy's evolution. The majority of starburst galaxies are in the midst of a merger or close encounter with another galaxy. Starburst galaxies include M82, NGC 4038/NGC 4039, and IC 10.
Messier 32 is a dwarf "early-type" galaxy located about 2.65 million light-years from Earth, appearing in the constellation Andromeda. M32 is a satellite galaxy of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and was discovered by Guillaume Le Gentil in 1749. M32 measures 6.5 ± 0.2 thousand light-years in diameter at the widest point.
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.
VIRGOHI21 is an extended region of neutral hydrogen (HI) in the Virgo cluster discovered in 2005. Analysis of its internal motion indicates that it may contain a large amount of dark matter, as much as a small galaxy. Since VIRGOHI21 apparently contains no stars, this would make it one of the first detected dark galaxies. Skeptics of this interpretation argue that VIRGOHI21 is simply a tidal tail of the nearby galaxy NGC 4254.
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.
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.
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.
Palomar 12 is a globular cluster in the constellation Capricornus.
Density wave theory or the Lin-Shu density wave theory is a theory proposed by C.C. Lin and Frank Shu in the mid-1960s to explain the spiral arm structure of spiral galaxies. The Lin-Shu theory introduces the idea of long-lived quasistatic spiral structure(QSSS hypothesis). In this hypothesis, the spiral pattern rotates in a particular angular frequency, whereas the stars in the galactic disk are orbiting at a different speed depending their distance to the galaxy center. The presence of spiral density waves in galaxies has implications on the star formation, since the gas orbiting around the galaxy may be compressed and form shock periodically. Theoretically, the formation of global spiral pattern is treated as an instability of the stellar disk caused by the self-gravity, as opposed to tidal interactions. The mathematical formulation of the theory has also been extended to other astrophysical disk systems, such as Saturn's rings.
Alar Toomre is an Estonian-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.
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 2782 is a peculiar spiral galaxy that formed after a galaxy merger in the constellation Lynx. The galaxy lies 75 million light years away from Earth, which means, given its apparent dimensions, that NGC 2782 is approximately 100,000 light years across. NGC 2782 has an active galactic nucleus and it is a starburst and a type 1 Seyfert galaxy. NGC 2782 is mentioned in the Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies in the category galaxies with adjacent loops.
NGC 2623 is a galaxy in the constellation of Cancer. It gained its unusual and distinctive shape as the result of a major collision and subsequent merger between two separate galaxies. This violent encounter caused clouds of gas within the two galaxies to become compressed and stirred up, in turn triggering a sharp spike of star formation. This active star formation is marked by speckled patches of bright blue; these can be seen clustered both in the center and along the trails of dust and gas forming NGC 2623’s sweeping curves. These tails extend for roughly 50,000 light-years from end to end. Many young, hot, newborn stars form in bright stellar clusters — at least 170 such clusters are known to exist within NGC 2623.
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.