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The Big Picture: Galactic collision provides amazing X-ray light show

Billy Steele
12.12.14
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'Tis the season for holiday light shows, and two galaxies about 130 million light years from Earth got together to put on a display of their own. NGC 2207 and IC 2163, both part of the constellation Canis Major (the Great Dog), got cozy and the "ultraluminous X-ray sources" (ULXs) were on full display for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to capture. In this case, the light is created when matter is pulled from stars to a neutron star or black whole, generating X-rays during the heating process. What's pictured here is a composite image of the encounter with Chandra data in pink, details from the Spitzer Space Telescope in red and info from the Hubble Space telescope in red, green and blue (seen as blue, white, orange and brown). The interaction between galaxies also features "intense star formation" thanks to shock waves that spawn during the collision.

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