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Istituto italiano di astrofisica - national institute for astrophisics

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INAF reveals details about an elliptical galaxy

New clues about galaxy formation process come from the very detailed images of a group of elliptical galaxies studied by an international team of astronomers led by the National Institute of Astrophysics-INAF.

New clues about galaxy formation process come from the very detailed images of a group of elliptical galaxies studied by an international team of astronomers led by the National Institute of Astrophysics-INAF.

The images were obtained by researchers thanks to the takes of VST: the telescope located in Chile at the European Southern Observatory-ESO.

Designed to provide astronomers with detailed maps of the sky of the Southern hemisphere, VST is a joint venture between ESO – which manages the infrastructure – and INAF section of Naples that manufactured the telescope in collaboration with the INAF observatories of Padua and Arcetri.

Among the detailed images collected by the researchers, coordinated by Marilena Spavone, there are images of galaxy NGC 5018.

Located in the Virgo constellation, NGC5018 is characterized by the presence of a feeble light filament which connects “nearby” NGC5022. This type of structure – defined as tidal tail – is a characteristic feature of the interaction between galaxies, from which the researchers can derive useful data about the formation and dynamics of primordial galaxies.

“The multiple peculiarities of this galaxy suggest a formation history including merger with and cannibalism of smaller galaxies”, said Marilena Spavone, first author of the study.

“The gravitational forces involved in these processes have left traces in the structure of this galaxy, including extensive arches of stars, tidal tails, “fans” of diffused material and complex dust webs that perturbate the light in the centre and dominate the outer regions” added the researcher.

The study is included in the VEGAS Survey, aimed at examining a wide sample of elliptical galaxies in different environments, to study their formation.

Source: ResearchItaly

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