tidal tail

The Mice

The Mice (NGC4676). Credit: NASA, H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M.Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), the ACS Science Team, and ESA.

A tidal tail is a tail-like structure of stars that has been flung out behind a galaxy when it merges with another system (see galaxy merger). Tidal tails are produced when the galaxies fall into each other's gravitational potential wells and may persist long after the merger has taken place.


The Tadpole Galaxy displays an extraordinarily long tidal tail. Other well known systems showing pronounced tidal tails are The Antennae and The Mice.