A galaxy about 23 million light years away is the site of impressive, ongoing fireworks. Rather than paper, powder and fire, this galactic light show involves a giant black hole, shock waves and vast reservoirs of gas. (NASA)
As Douglas Adams wrote in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” “Space is big. Really big.”
There’s nothing like a good selection of space images to remind us we’re just a speck of dust in the vast, brilliant universe.
“The Pinwheel Galaxy is in the constellation of Ursa Major (also known as the Big Dipper). It is about 70 percent larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy, with a diameter of about 170,000 light years, and sits at a distance of 21 million light years from Earth. This means that the light we’re seeing in this image left the Pinwheel Galaxy about 21 million years ago – many millions of years before humans ever walked the Earth.”
“Juno is providing spectacular results, and we are rewriting our ideas of how giant planets work,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The science will be just as spectacular as with our original plan.”
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.”
“Astronomers discovered a real “tell-tale heart” in space, 6,500 light-years from Earth. The “heart” is the crushed core of a long-dead star, called a neutron star, which exploded as a supernova and is now still beating with rhythmic precision. Evidence of its heartbeat are rapid-fire, lighthouse-like pulses of energy from the fast-spinning neutron star. The stellar relic is embedded in the center of the Crab Nebula, the expanding, tattered remains of the doomed star.”
“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.”
— Edwin Hubble, Astronomer
“These six narrow-angle color images were made from the first ever “portrait” of the solar system taken by Voyager 1, which was more than 4 billion miles from Earth and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic.”
“There is perhaps no better a demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.” —Carl Sagan in Time magazine, 9 January 1995, describing the “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth (above), taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft 6 billion kilometres away in 1990.
“This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colorful “last hurrah” of a star like our sun.”
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
—Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” Series
“Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined, and rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked and even blasted. Still to come: Mars being stepped on.” —Buzz Aldrin, in his book Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration (2013).