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A mysterious galactic "jellyfish" has been spotted swimming in deep space and dragging its sparkly tentacles through the cosmos.
Astronomers aren't sure how this galaxy ended up with its long, gassy appendages, but NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope is going to investigate this cosmic cephalopod after it launches into orbit in 2021.
Galaxy - ESO - Milky - Way - Light-years
The "jellyfish" galaxy, named ESO 137-001, is a barred spiral galaxy much like the Milky Way. It is located about 220 million light-years from Earth in the southern constellation Triangulum Australe and is part of a cluster of galaxies known as Abell 3627. Its long tail of hot gas stretches across 260,000 light-years of space, and it's filled with newborn stars.
"The newly forming stars in the tail are mysterious because processes common in large groups of galaxies should make it difficult for new stars to emerge," NASA officials said in a statement. That's because the space between galaxies in a cluster like Abell 3627 is filled with diffuse clouds of hot gas that can be detrimental to galaxies that pass through it.
Gas - Galaxy - Supply - Dust - Gas
That intergalactic gas will strip away a galaxy's own supply of dust and gas through a process known as "ram pressure stripping." And when galaxies start to run out of dust and gas, they run out of the stuff they need to make new stars and turn into what astronomers call galactic burnouts.
"Both gas and dust are getting stripped off, but how much and what happens to the stripped material and the galaxy itself are still open questions," Stacey Alberts, a researcher at the University of Arizona and a co-investigator for the James Webb Space Telescope science team, said in the...
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