Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday beautiful science

I was really hoping to have a photo from the Japanese mission to the moon for today, but there aren't any good ones ready yet (just shots of the satellite unpacking itself with the moon in the background). Instead, I provide a photo of "The Whale and The Hockey Stick" from the Astronomy Photo of the Day. If you've never checked them out, you should. Their description of the photo above is:

The Whale and The Hockey Stick
Credit & Copyright: Josef Poepsel, Stefan Binnewies (Capella Observatory)

Explanation: NGC 4631 is a big beautiful spiral galaxy seen edge-on (top right) only 25 million light-years away towards the small northern constellation Canes Venatici. This galaxy's slightly distorted wedge shape suggests to some a cosmic herring and to others the popular moniker of The Whale Galaxy. Either way, it is similar in size to our own Milky Way. In this gorgeous color image, the Whale's dark interstellar dust clouds, yellowish core, and young blue star clusters are easy to spot. A companion galaxy, the small elliptical NGC 4627, appears above the Whale Galaxy. At the lower left is another distorted galaxy, the hockey stick-shaped NGC 4656. The distortions and mingling trails of gas detected at other wavelengths suggest that all three galaxies have had close encounters with each other in their past. The Whale Galaxy is also known to have spouted a halo of hot gas glowing in x-rays.


1 comment:

Eric Michael Johnson said...

Gorgeous photo!

I just wanted to let you know that Pharyngula started this blog meme that I'm passing on to you to as an example of mutation in cyberspace. Don't let it go extinct! It'll be interesting to see how the experiment works out.