Featured Image: The Battle for Star Formation at Taffy Bridge

When galaxies clash, is star formation heightened or quenched? The Taffy galaxies (UGC 12914/5) provide an excellent setting to probe this question. These two galaxies, shown above in a representative-color optical image from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, collided head on just 25–30 million years ago, resulting in a bridge of turbulent gas that stretches across the space between them. A team led by Philip Appleton (California Institute of Technology/Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) carried out new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observations, the locations of which are marked with red circles in the image above, to study this interacting pair of galaxies. The team’s observations of carbon monoxide gas suggest that the filaments and clumps within the bridge that connects the two galaxies are likely gravitationally unbound. Without a source of pressure to keep them together, these potentially star-forming features are likely to dissipate within 2–5 million years. Despite this, star formation presses on in isolated regions. To learn more about the results of this galactic interaction, be sure to check out the full article below!


“The CO Emission in the Taffy Galaxies (UGC 12914/15) at 60 pc Resolution. I. The Battle for Star Formation in the Turbulent Taffy Bridge,” P. N. Appleton et al 2022 ApJ 931 121. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac63b2