James Webb telescope photo shows 2 massive galaxies colliding together

The Chariot Wheel Galaxy captured by the Webb image

James Webb continues to be amazed at the work he is doing. The latest image shared by the James Webb team is of two massive galaxies colliding together. The galactic collision is so intense that what appear to be sparks can be seen shooting from the galaxies as they collide. Even more intriguing is that none of the galaxies appear to have a supermassive black hole at their center.

James Webb captures a stunning image of two massive galaxies colliding together

Galactic collisions are not an unexpected or uncommon phenomenon. In fact, James Webb recently captured an image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, another galaxy made by a massive collision of two galaxies. This last image, which captures IC 1623 and VV 114, is particularly intriguing. Not only does the image look like two galaxies colliding together, but there is no evidence of a black hole either.

Most galaxies have an active supermassive black hole at their center. Our own Milky Way does, and we’ve even captured an image of this black hole before. When two galaxies collide, astronomers expect the black holes at the center of each galaxy to be particularly active. This is because this type of incident rips large streams of material from each galaxy.

Subsequently, the collision usually causes massive shock waves that sweep through the colliding galaxies. However, when the researchers began analyzing the two colliding galaxies together, they found that neither appeared to have an active black hole. The image can be seen in the tweet of New Scientist on top.

Galactic anomaly

James Webb previously captured an image of the Cartwheel Galaxy, which was created when two galaxies collided. Image source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Webb ERO Production Team

The lack of signs pointing to active supermassive black holes is intriguing. However, researchers cannot yet guarantee this. As they noted, the presence of black holes may be more difficult to detect. They could be hidden within the mass of collapsing galaxies. Also, they might not be active for some reason.

Black holes often deflect material from nearby stars. As such, this collision seems like a perfect way for any black holes in the area to feed freely on the resulting mess from the collision. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about black holes in general, and the amount of colliding gas and material in these two galaxies being smashed together could simply mask the presence of one.


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