Friday, April 10, 2009

Sex in Space

"What will become of these galaxies? Spiral Galaxies NGC 5426 and NGC 5427 are passing dangerously close to each other, but each is likely to survive this collision. Most frequently when galaxies collide, a large galaxy eats a much smaller galaxy. In this case, however, the two galaxies are quite similar, each being a sprawling spiral with expansive arms and a compact core. As the galaxies advance over the next tens of millions of years, their component stars are unlikely to collide, although new stars will form in the bunching of gas caused by gravitational tides. Close inspection of the above image taken by the 8-meter Gemini-South Telescope in Chile shows a bridge of material momentarily connecting the two giants. Known collectively as Arp 271, the interacting pair spans about 130,000 light years and lies about 90 million light-years away toward the constellation of Virgo. Quite possibly, our Milky Way Galaxy will undergo a similar collision with the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy in about five billion years."
[From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) July 21, 2008]

Two galaxies caught "doin' it"
by a telescope in the Andes
Two galaxies inexorably drawn together
by "dat ol' black magic"
by Newton's "gravitational force"
by Einstein's "curved spacetime"
by Dante Alighieri's
"Love which moves the sun and the other stars".


Anonymous said...

They are eating one another -- intergalactic 69...

Anonymous said...

Fabulous. :)

My astrophysics research group studies mergers. There's generally an explosion of globular clusters created by the combination. Some kind of reproduction, or at least production.