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HKU Scientists Find New Galaxy Closest Ever to Earth

Aug 18, 2015     Email"> PrintText Size

The discovery of a new ring galaxy which arose from a galaxy collision, the closest ever to the earth, was made public by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Monday.

The newly formed ring galaxy was found by chance by a team of astronomers led by Prof. Quentin Parker at the HKU and Prof. Albert Zijlstra at the University of Manchester, during a special wide-field survey of the Southern Milky Way.

The ring is 30 million light years away and is called "Kathryn' s wheel", named after the famous fireworks that it resembles and Zijlstra's wife Kathryn. The results were published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

According to HKU, shock-waves from the collision compress reservoirs of gas in each galaxy and trigger the formation of new stars. This creates a spectacular ring of intense emission, and lights up the system like a Catherine wheel on bonfire night. Galaxies grow through collisions but it is rare to catch one in the process, and extremely rare to see a bull's-eye collision in progress.

Parker told Xinhua that the basic discovery happened some years ago and the follow-up analysis and interpretation are fundamental to all science. "Before you announce a lovely discovery you have to spend a lot of time doing careful follow-up observations to confirm the discovery."

Parker said visually impressive cosmological objects are always attractive to members of the public and he hoped that this discovery will help to motivate more talented young people to pursue scientific endeavors. (Xinhua)

 

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(Editor: CHEN Na)

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