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Cartwheel galaxy facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
A spectacular head-on collision between two galaxies is seen in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope true-color image of the Cartwheel Galaxy.
5 Panel Cartwheel Image
The Cartwheel galaxy in different spectra (X-ray, ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared). The image combines data from four different space-based observatories: the Chandra X-ray Observatory (purple), the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (ultraviolet/blue), the Hubble Space Telescope (visible/green), and the Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared/red).

The Cartwheel galaxy (also known as ESO 350-40) is a lenticular galaxy about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor.

It is about 150,000 light years across, slightly larger than the Milky Way. It has a mass of about 2.9–4.8 × 109 solar masses, and rotates at 217 km/s.

It was discovered by Fritz Zwicky in 1941. Zwicky said his discovery was "one of the most complicated structures awaiting its explanation on the basis of stellar dynamics".

The Cartwheel galaxy shows radio and optical spokes, but they are not the same spokes.


The galaxy was a normal spiral galaxy before it had a collision with a smaller galaxy about 200 million years ago. When the nearby galaxy passed through the Cartwheel Galaxy, the power of the collision sent a strong shock wave through the galaxy. Moving at high speed, the shock wave moved gas and dust. This made a starburst around the galaxy's center. This explains the blue colored ring around the center, bright section. It can be seen that the galaxy is beginning to take the shape of a normal spiral galaxy again, as spiral arms (The spokes) are spreading out from a central core.

There are other possible explanations of the ring-like appearance.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Galaxia Rueda de Carro para niños

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