The Cosmos with NGC 7252

NGC 7252 is a peculiar galaxy resulting from an interaction between two galaxies that started a billion years ago. It is located 220 million light years away in the constellation Aquarius. It is also called Atoms for Peace galaxy, a nickname which comes from its loop-like structure, made of stars, that resembles a diagram of an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus.

NGC 7252 is located in the southern part of Aquarius. With an apparent magnitude of 12.7, it is bright enough to be seen by amateur astronomers as a faint small fuzzy blob. Large loops of gas and stars around it makes the galaxy quite peculiar. Thus, it is also Arp 226 (the 226th entry in Arp’s list of peculiar galaxies).

In December 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the “Atoms for Peace” speech. The speech was concerned about promoting nuclear power for peaceful purposes instead of nuclear weapons. Significant to the scientific community, the name of the speech was given to this peculiar galaxy. The two galaxies merging also resembles nuclear fusion and the galaxies giant loops resemble a diagram of electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom.

The galaxy is the result of a collision of two galaxies. This collision is an opportunity for astronomers to study such mergers and to predict the future of our Milky Way after its expected collision with the Andromeda galaxy.

X-ray emissions were observed in NGC 7252. This suggests the existence of nuclear activity or an intermediate-mass black hole in the galaxy.

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