13 Sep 2010

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Dwarf galaxy eaten by neighbour!

Astronomers have noticed stellar streams around the galaxy M 63. They say this is a clear sign that the galaxy has digest a dwarf neighbour at some stage. Although this observation has also been made for distant galaxies. The findings are being written up in a astronomical journal.
They claim that it could shed light on the evolution of galaxies.As dwarf galaxies are digested by spiral galaxies, they form structures called stellar streams which are long strips of stars produced by the stretching action of tidal forces. Events like these have been observed in our immediate neighbors (the "local group" of galaxies) for over a decade.David Martínez-Delgado from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany carried out a survey of spiral galaxies at distances of up to 50 million light-years from Earth.He discovered the signs of spiral galaxies eating dwarfs (claiming that this was the first time this has been observed in galaxies beyond the "Local Group")Surprisingly, the research was done with the telescopes of amateur astronomers.For his observations, he used telescopes with apertures between 10cm and 50cm, equipped with CCD cameras. He now plan to use the data to test computer predictions of the frequency of features such as stellar streams.

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