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Space photo of the day. July 8, 2010. A group of galaxies.


See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Those swirls are galaxies. Not planets, not stars,
not solar systems.  Galaxies. Wow!

HCG 87: A Small Group of Galaxies
Credit: Sally Hunsberger (Lowell Obs.), Jane Charlton (Penn State) et al.;
Data: Hubble Legacy Archive; Processing: Robert Gendler

Explanation: Sometimes galaxies form groups. For example, our own Milky Way Galaxy is part of the Local Group of Galaxies. Small, compact groups, like Hickson Compact Group 87 (HCG 87) shown above, are interesting partly because they slowly self-destruct. Indeed, the galaxies of HCG 87 are gravitationally stretching each other during their 100-million year orbits around a common center. The pulling creates colliding gas that causes bright bursts of star formation and feeds matter into their active galaxy centers. HCG 87 is composed of a large edge-on spiral galaxy visible on the lower left, an elliptical galaxy visible on the lower right, and a spiral galaxy visible near the top. The small spiral near the center might be far in the distance. Several stars from our Galaxy are also visible in the foreground. The above picture was taken in 1999 July by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. Studying groups like HCG 87 allows insight into how all galaxies form and evolve.

From http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap100706.html

Space photo of the day. NASA says it’s a nebula, but it looks like a Klingon D7-class battlecruiser to me.


NASA says it’s a nebula, but it looks like a Klingon D7-class battlecruiser to me. :-]

 A Matter of Perspective

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html

A Matter of Perspective

The Seagull nebula, seen in this infrared mosaic from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, draws its common name from it resemblance to a gull in flight. But it depends on your point of view. When the image is rotated 180 degrees it bears a passing resemblance to a galloping lizard — or perhaps a dragon or a dinosaur. The image spans an area about seven times as wide as the full moon, and three times as high (3.55 by 1.37 degrees), straddling the border between the constellations Monoceros and Canis Major (the Big Dog). So you might say this lizard is running with the Big Dog, while the gull is flying from it.

Astronomers catalog the nebula as IC 2177. This cosmic cloud is one of many sites of star formation within the Milky Way galaxy. It is located 3,800 light-years away from Earth, inside the Orion spur — the same partial spiral arm of the Milky Way where our solar system is located. The nebula is nearly 240 light-years across.

WISE is an all-sky survey, snapping pictures of the whole sky — from asteroids to stars to powerful, distant galaxies.

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The D7-class battlecruiser was designed by Matt Jefferies to mimic the predatory nature of a manta ray. The vessel's basic configuration was used for all subsequent Klingon ships.