(ORDO NEWS) — This striking pair is the elliptical galaxy NGC 541 and the unusual star-forming irregular dwarf galaxy known as the Minkowski object (a bluish object to the lower left of NGC 541).
Elliptical galaxies are nearly spherical or egg-shaped groups of stars that form when galaxies merge. NGC 541 emits radio emission invisible to the human eye but detectable by radio telescopes. These jets originate in the accretion disk around the galaxy’s central black hole.
Radio emission from NGC 541 likely caused star formation in the Minkowski object. Radio galaxies like NGC 541 are surrounded by gaseous halos and/or debris from recent merger events that may have caused the activity of the radio galaxy.
The jet crashes into the moderately dense, warm gas around the galaxy, and the shock wave compresses and heats the gas, causing it to energize, or ionize. When the ionized gas changes from a higher energy state to a lower energy state, the energy leaves the cloud in the form of radiation.
When the clouds cool, they collapse, giving rise to the birth of stars. The Minkowski object is about 7.5 million years old and is made up of about 20 million stars.
Hubble observed the Minkowski object and NGC 541 to better understand how star formation occurs in this region, what kind it occurs and what are the properties of the jet that causes it.
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