Section 3.3: What would happen if galaxies collide?
Some of the most stunning astronomical images we have aren’t of individual spiral or elliptical galaxies, but two galaxies colliding together or interacting. Some examples are shown below of interacting galaxies.
Examples of colliding (interacting) galaxies. From left to right: The Mice (NGC 4676); NGC 52; the Antennae galaxies (NGC 4038-4039). (credit: NASA, H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M.Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), the ACS Science Team, and ESA; NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and B. Whitmore (STScI); NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration)
Not only do these cosmic collision provide us with spectacular pictures, they also give us key insights into how galaxies change over time. In this section we will look at interacting galaxies in more detail, including the eventual fate of our own Milky Way.