Monday, January 07, 2008

Look Up #2

This picture, entitled Galaxies in Pegasus (copyright Dietmar Hagar), is from one of my favorite sites, Astronomy Picture of the Day.

The large galaxy on the upper right is known as NGC 7331. (Poetic, no?) It's 50 million light-years away.

It's not just our own Milky Way galaxy that's headed for eventual collision with another galaxy (Andromeda.) Take a look at the grouping in the lower left of the picture.

"The disturbed looking group of galaxies at the lower left is well-known as Stephan's Quintet. About 300 million light-years distant, the quintet dramatically illustrates a multiple galaxy collision, its powerful, ongoing interactions posed for a brief cosmic snapshot."

Every living thing in that quintet of galaxies had a very bad day back then. I'm talking extinction events all over the place. I guess by now the quintet has formed itself into one great galactic mass. If any stargazers were left, they'd be quite confused. I hope they're a little more poetic than ours.