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Interacting Galaxies

When galaxies approach each other, their gravitational fields and dark matter halos interact with each other. These interactions result in distortions and disturbances in the morphologies of the galaxies in the form of tidal tails and bridges. Such interactions play an important role in the evolution of galaxies through cosmic time and the activation of active galactic nuclei.

Operating in the optical and near-IR regime, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) allow us to study the composition and dynamics of nearby galaxies. Our research encompasses galaxy clusters, binary and multiple galaxy interactions, such as Stephan’s Quintet, Mrk231 and SDSSJ134420.86+663717.8.
For example, using the LBT to obtain optical long-slit spectroscopy of the galaxy pair SDSSJ134420.86+663717.8, we have unearthed new details pertaining to the interaction and merging of these galaxies. These colossi are analogous in mass and size to Andromeda galaxy and the Milky Way, but they are in a much later stage of the merger process: their nuclei seem to be as close as the distance from the Sun to the center of the Milky Way.

Further observations with the LBT are planned for the upcoming years. Besides of radio, near-infrared and optical observations of merging sources, our work group is also involved in simulating interactions of galaxies.