Colliding Galaxies

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A team of Clemson University College of Science researchers, in collaboration with international colleagues, has reported the first definitive detection of a relativistic jet emerging from two colliding galaxies — in essence, the first photographic proof that merging galaxies can produce jets of charged particles that travel at nearly the speed of light. Furthermore, scientists had previously discovered that these jets could be found in elliptical-shaped galaxies, which can be formed in the merging of two spiral galaxies. Now, they have an image showing the formation of a jet from two younger, spiral-shaped galaxies. “For the first time, we have found two spiral- or disk-shaped galaxies on path for a collision that have produced a nascent, baby jet that has just started its life at the center of one of the galaxies,” said Vaidehi Paliya, a former Clemson post-doctoral researcher and lead author of the findings reported in the Astrophysical Journal on April 7.