A star-devouring galaxy

star devouring galaxy
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New images of a galaxy located 60 million light-years from Earth have revealed that / it’s a cannibal. Composite pictures from the La Silla Observatory in Chile show that the NGC 1316 galaxy is strewn with dust N and small star clusters, space debris that astronomers say is the remains of another galaxy that was swallowed up by the black hole at NGC 1316’s center some 3 billion years ago.

“When one galaxy passes through and is eaten by another,” European Southern Observatory spokesman Richard Hook tells, “it’s a little bit like dropping a pebble into a pool of water.” The stars that are driven out appear as “ripples” in space, like shells left on the beach by the receding tide. As matter is sucked in, the black hole emits radio waves, the strength of which indicates that the galaxy remains hungry. Our Milky Way isn’t near enough to be affected, but a similar run-in with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy is expected—in about 4 billion years.