Witness the awe-inspiring jellyfish galaxy JO206 as it glides across this captivating image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The vibrant star-forming disk of JO206, encircled by a delicate and luminous dust cloud, takes center stage. Against a dark backdrop, a few prominent foreground stars with mesmerizing diffraction spikes catch our attention at the bottom of the image. Located in the constellation Aquarius, JO206 resides an astonishing distance of over 700 million light-years away from Earth.
Jellyfish galaxies get their name from their striking resemblance to the graceful marine creatures. In this image, you can see long tendrils of bright star formation trailing behind JO206’s disk, reminiscent of the tentacles trailing behind a jellyfish.
These distinctive tendrils are formed through the interaction between galaxies and the intra-cluster medium—a thin, superheated plasma that fills galaxy clusters. As galaxies move through these clusters, they collide with the intra-cluster medium, causing gas to be stripped from the galaxies and giving rise to the elongated tendrils brimming with newly forming stars.
The tentacles of jellyfish galaxies offer astronomers a fascinating opportunity to study star formation under extreme conditions, far away from the primary disk of the galaxy. Surprisingly, observations from the Hubble Space Telescope have shown that there are no significant differences in star formation between the disks of jellyfish galaxies and their tentacles. This suggests that the environment where stars are born has only a minor influence on their formation, defying initial expectations.
Immerse yourself in the captivating world of the jellyfish galaxy and marvel at the cosmic wonders it unveils. Witness JO206 as it gracefully traverses the depths of space, leaving a trail of starry tendrils in its wake.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, M. Gullieuszik and the GASP team