Monday, April 20, 2009

Possibly the most spectacular collision imaginable

An all-star cast of telescopes (Hubble, Keck and Chandra) teamed up to turn in a composite image of four galaxy clusters colliding. (Press Association) This is huge. First of all, the whole mess (called MACSJ0717) is 13 million light years across (that means it takes a beam of light 13 million years to move across this whole thing… light moves at 300,000 meters per second). Second of all, four galaxy clusters, not just galaxies are colliding here. How big is that?

The Milky Way (the galaxy you live in) has 100 billion stars, and it's part of a cluster (called the Local Group) that includes 30 galaxies (note, we're probably the biggest of all the galaxies in the Local Group). So MACSJ0717 is probably a collision involving trillions of stars, planets, asteroids and tons of other stuff. Pretty amazing.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.