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Galactic Tides: Gravitational Forces Within Galaxies


Just as the earth’s oceans at their shores, the universe’s galaxies also experience tides, but on a much larger scale.


GS III: Science and Technology

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  1. Galactic Tides: Gravitational Forces Within Galaxies

Galactic Tides: Gravitational Forces Within Galaxies

Galactic tides refer to tidal forces experienced by objects within the gravitational field of a galaxy, such as the Milky Way.

  • Causes: Galactic tides are generated by gravitational interactions among celestial objects within a galaxy, including stars and gas clouds.
  • Effects of Galactic Tides: These tidal forces exert a profound influence on various aspects of a galaxy’s evolution and dynamics.
  • Reshaping Galaxy Structure: Galactic tides can reshape the structure of a galaxy by inducing the formation of tidal tails and bridges, altering its overall appearance.
  • Promoting Star Formation: They can play a role in promoting star formation within galaxies by triggering the gravitational collapse of gas and dust clouds.
  • Disrupting Smaller Systems: Galactic tides can disrupt smaller star systems or objects within a galaxy, leading to their fragmentation or dispersion.
  • Orbital Changes: The tidal forces also affect the orbits of individual stars within a galaxy, resulting in long-term changes in the galaxy’s overall structure.
  • Interactions Between Proximate Galaxies: Galactic tides influence how neighboring galaxies interact with one another, determining whether they merge, collide, or maintain their separation.
  • Observations in Andromeda: For instance, in the case of the Andromeda galaxy, researchers have observed tidal streams near its edges, which are believed to be signatures of dwarf galaxies that were once captured and subsequently absorbed by Andromeda.
  • Effects on Supermassive Black Holes: Galactic tides also impact the behavior of supermassive black holes located at the centers of galaxies, leading to events that alter their interactions with nearby stars and celestial objects.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023