Hubble captures a galaxy drifting in space

The galaxy JW39 is drifting amid clusters and intraclusters that can twist it into a variety of ways.

The jellyfish galaxy JW39 , more than 900 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices, hangs serenely in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image.

Despite its appearance, this galaxy is adrift in a fiercely hostile environment: a cluster. Compared to their more isolated counterparts, galaxies in clusters are often distorted by the gravitational pull of their larger neighbors, which can twist the galaxies into a variety of shapes.

in the worst situation

If that wasn’t enough, the space between the galaxies in a cluster is also permeated with an extremely hot plasma known as the intracluster medium. While this plasma is extremely tenuous, galaxies moving through it experience it almost like swimmers fighting a current, and this interaction can strip galaxies of their star-forming gas.

This interaction between the intracluster medium and the galaxies is called ram shedding and is the process responsible for the trailing tendrils of this jellyfish galaxy . As JW39 moved through the cluster, pressure from the intracluster medium removed gas and dust into long ribbons of star formation that now extend from the galaxy’s disk, NASA reports .

Astronomers using Hubble ‘s Wide Field Camera 3 studied these trailing tendrils in detail, as they are a particularly extreme environment for star formation. Surprisingly, they found that star formation in the “tentacles” of jellyfish galaxies was not noticeably different from star formation in the galaxy ‘s disk .