Archive for October 21st, 2006|Daily archive page


In Uncategorized on 10/21/2006 at 5:11 am

now THAT’S what we call a real Superstar

Check out this stunning Hubble image of the Antennae galaxies, sharpest and clearest photograph yet of this colliding pair of galaxies. As the two galaxies smash together, billions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. Carl Sagan would have been proud. Hard to believe already 10 yrs have passed since his premature death. The genius who popularized the phrase “..billions and billions of stars out there.”, pioneered the field of Exobiology and taught ground breaking (standing room only) courses in CriticalThinking at Cornell would have been enraptured with Hubble’s images of what’s really out there. Like many other objects, Hubble has resolved the enigmatic Antenna Galaxy, which looked to Earthbound telescopes like a fuzzy insect, into reality: The Antennae are a pair of interacting galaxies, caught in each other’s gravitational pull, and tearing each other apart. The brightest and most compact of these are called Superstar clusters. The Antennae galaxies, 68 million light years from Earth, began to fuse 500 million years ago. (One light year is the distance light waves travel in one year, a mere 6 trillion miles). This image serves as a preview for our very own Milky Way’s likely collision with the nearby Andromeda Galaxy with obvious consequences for planet Earth, which would..ahem… be obliterated into microdust. We could talk about this calmly now of course since this will only occur about 6 billion years from now. Plenty of time to plan ahead 😉 (NASA, ESA/Hubble, and B. Whitmore – Space Telescope Science Institute/Handout/Reuters)