The spiral galaxy named ESO 137-001 is being torn apart and this event has been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope as it gets ripped to shreds by the Norma Cluster. Called Galaxy cluster Abell 3627, it contains either hundreds or thousands of galaxies that are being held together by gravity and when the two cosmic entities collided, ESO 137-001 never stood a chance.
A rather unusual region of space called the Great Attractor lies near the Norma Cluster and has actually been pulling the Virgo Cluster and many other galaxy clusters including Earth’s very own Milky Way towards the anomaly. The cause behind this strange force is unknown as whatever is causing it is currently having its view blocked by all of the gas and dust contained within the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Whatever the cause of the Great Attractor, it is pulling other galaxies towards it at a massive rate of 600 kilometers per second or 373 miles per second.
The current belief is that the Great Attractor is a super cluster of galaxies and in a process called ram pressure stripping, according to the Hubble release, a temperature of 100 million degrees Fahrenheit is reached by super-heated plasma. In the center of Abell 3627, pressure is being constantly added to ESO 137-001 and because of this pressure, the spiral galaxy is being torn apart and having this spectacle captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 has blue streaks of light, which are emanating outwards from its galactic center that can be seen in ultraviolet light, shining brightly. While beautiful to look at, the blue light coming out of the spiral galaxy is actually part of the process of it being torn apart. Within this blue light there are young stars that are literally being ripped away from their galaxy as it moves in space towards the Great Attractor. Again, this is part of the ram pressure stripping process that is super-heating the galaxy and causing it to be torn apart. Not only this, but because of the ram pressure stripping, the galaxy will be left with very little of the cold gas that is essential in its ability to create new stars, meaning that its current trip is a one way journey.
NASA took time to make a statement regarding the spectacle and explain in simple terms, what actually occurred. According to the space agency, the spiral galaxy was travelling at about 4.5 million miles per hour, through a massive 180 million degree temperatures of intra-galaxy gas. Due to this process, ESO 137-001’s own gas was actually torn away (ram pressure stripping). Once the galaxy’s gas has been moved into intergalactic space, the gas erupts and all of the stars that were contained within are now pumping out blue and ultraviolet light. In the center of the spiral galaxy, there is a brown, smoky region, which is being pushed away in a similar manner.
Watching this spiral galaxy being torn apart through the Hubble Space Telescope is truly a remarkable sight to see, and thanks to this YouTube video, anyone can witness it. The zoom-in gives a full perspective of just how far the spectacle is from the Milky Way and Earth.
By Jonathan Holowka