NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope caught this curious galaxy, the result of a merger of two smaller ones. The process has left millions of stars in its wake, looking like a fine mist.
The process has also left the galaxy – known by the cumbersome code 2MASX J16270254+4328340 – exhausted and unable to produce new stars.
Earlier in the merger, various clouds of gas within the two galaxies collapsed, triggering an eruption of star formation. With this gas now exhausted, the galaxy has no material to produce new stars.
As the newly formed, but aged galaxy goes on, its stars will redden and eventually begin to cool and dim one by one. With no future generations of stars to take their place, the galaxy thus begins a steady path of fading.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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