News Release Archive:

News Release 21 of 33

February 18, 1999 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1999-06

Hubble Finds More Evidence of Galactic Cannibalism

February 18, 1999: This beautiful, eerie silhouette of dark dust clouds against the glowing nucleus of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1316 may represent the aftermath of a 100-million-year-old cosmic collision between the elliptical and a smaller companion galaxy.

Hubble's superb resolution has enabled the identification of a class of small and very faint star clusters in this galaxy's central region. Many of these clusters are so small that they are barely held together by the mutual gravity of their constituent stars. Though such clusters are common in spiral galaxies like our Milky Way, they have rarely been seen in elliptical galaxies. The astronomers conclude that these clusters are among the last visible remains of a galaxy that was cannibalized by NGC 1316.

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Credit: Carl Grillmair (California Institute of Technology) and NASA