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Published on Apr 30, 2008
A visualization of the collision of two spiral galaxies. No sound.
In this visualization of a computer simulation, two spiral galaxies are set on a collision course. As one slices through the other, both are disrupted. The tidal forces of gravity produce long tails of material streaming away from the collision. The central regions relatively quickly fall together and merge.
The visualization is based on a supercomputer simulation, which calculated the motions of 262,144 particles under the forces of gravity and hydrodynamics. The gas particles are shown in blue and the stars in yellow. To preserve scientific accuracy, each particle is visualized with a size and density profile corresponding to the calculation parameters. The animation is a direct visual analog to the simulation with minimal loss of fidelity.
Visualization by Frank Summers (Space Telescope Science Institute). Simulation by Chris Mihos (Case Western Reserve University) and Lars Hernquist (Harvard University).