Webb Telescope Reveals Clash of Galaxies in Detail
"As this intruder crashes into the group… is causing a giant shockwave to form. As the shockwave passes through this clumpy streamer, it is creating a highly turbulent… cooling layer, and it’s in the regions affected… that we’re seeing unexpected structures and the recycling of molecular hydrogen gas. This is important because molecular hydrogen forms the raw material that may ultimately form stars, so understanding its fate will tell us more about the evolution of Stephan’s Quintet and galaxies in general."
"What we’re seeing is the disintegration of a giant cloud of cold molecules in super-hot gas, and interestingly, the gas doesn’t survive the shock, it just cycles through warm and cold phases," says Appleton. "We don’t yet fully understand these cycles, but we know the gas is being recycled because the length of the tail is longer than the time it takes for the clouds it is made from to be destroyed."
"A molecular cloud piercing through intergalactic gas, and leaving havoc in its wake, may be rare and not yet fully understood."
"It is likely that pre-existing large clouds of dense gas have become unstable because of the shock, and have collapsed to form new stars as we expect."