Iowa State University

Curt Struck, Physics and Astronomy, (515) 294-5440
Erica Brizzi, News Service, (515) 294-4777


AMES, Iowa -- Curt Struck and Phil Appleton, Iowa State University physics and astronomy professors, along with a team of scientists, have made recent discoveries using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope that may lead to a clearer explanation of the formation of stars.

Struck and Appleton have discovered supersonic "comet-clouds" found in the heart of cartwheel galaxy, which is formed when two galaxies collide head-on, forming gas clouds. These knots of gas may help explain the lack of star formation in this type of colliding galaxy.

"This is a very special kind of galaxy collision that gives us more evidence in the evolution of galaxies and star formation," said Struck. "When a galaxy gets a kick from a collision, that speeds things up, triggering the formation of more stars. This discovery gives us insight into why this type of collision produces a different result."

Struck said the project is part of a larger effort that uses telescopes around the world to research the death and birth of stars.

All of the computer models used to research the project were created on ISU's campus-wide computer network. Iowa State's Erwin Fick Observatory has also been used to gather information for other colliding galaxy projects.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).


Editor: More information is available on the Space Telescope Institute World Wide Web server at