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Current Affairs

Discovery of Ghostly arms

Date: 22 July 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a striking new photo of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4848 with a new feature known as ‘Ghostly arms’.

 

Background

A notable feature of most spiral galaxies is the multitude of arching spiral arms that seemingly spin-out from the galaxy’s center.

 

Details

  • The "anomalous arms" consist mostly of regions of gas that are being violently heated by shock waves from a pair of jets of particles originating at the galaxy's core.

  • The jets are tipped 30 degrees with respect to the galaxy disk. If one could vertically project the jets down onto the disk, they would line up almost perfectly with the anomalous arms.

  • One of the predictions of this scenario is that the anomalous arms will gradually be pushed out of the galactic disk plane by jet-heated gas.

  • NGC 4848 lies around 336 million light-years away in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. This galaxy was discovered on April 21, 1865, by the German astronomer Heinrich Louis d’Arrest.

  • Also known as UGC 8082 and IRAS 12556+2830, it has a diameter of approximately 150,000 light-years.

  • NGC 4848 is a member of the Coma cluster (also known as Abell 1656), a large structure of over a thousand galaxies bound together by gravity.

  • Not only do we see the inner section of the spiral arms containing hundreds of thousands of young, bright, blue stars, but Hubble also captured the extremely faint wispy tails of the outer spiral arms.

  • If you are situated in the northern hemisphere with a large telescope, you might just be able to observe the ghost-like appearance of this faint galaxy within the faint constellation of Coma Berenices.