Third Thursday Star Talk
Cosmic Collisions Galore!
Dr. Lisa Chien, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University
The Hubble Space Telescope, has produced some of the most spectacular images of colliding galaxies. Often their beautiful and unique appearance stirs our imaginations and leads to names like the Tadpole, the Humming Bird, the Rose, the Atom of Peace, and the Fountain of Youth. What actually happens during the process can result in some of the biggest and most violent events in the universe. Collisions of galaxies can create enormous bursts of star formation, disrupt entire galaxies, transform their shapes, and even lead to the merger of central black holes, creating a single super- massive black hole. After decades of research astronomers are just now understanding the details of such collisional processes. These interacting galaxies are ubiquitous throughout space time, and
are the building blocks of our universe. Dr. Chien will introduce the process and the outcome of galactic collisions, and the importance and insight of studying such objects.