"Tinkerbell" in Southern Skies | Science | Smithsonian
Current Issue
October 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

"Tinkerbell" in Southern Skies

smithsonian.com
southern_hemi_tinkerbell.jpg
Astronomers at a southern hemisphere telescope spotted this
three-way collision of galaxies late last year, 650 million light years away. They nicknamed it the "Cosmic Bird," though later observers pointed out a striking resemblance to a certain fairy famous for helping a band of boys defeat a hook-handed pirate. As is all too common with fairies, this Tinkerbell is making a fleeting appearance as the galaxies whiz past each other at about 870,000 miles per hour. But intense gravitational interactions in Tinkerbell's "head" are forming new stars at a rate of about 200 solar masses per year — leaving sort of a trail of fairy dust. The discovery was made at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope array, a group of four telescopes in the Andes of northern Chile. A report will be formally published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ( European Southern Observatory)

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus