Monday, March 19, 2007

One galaxy, over easy.


This image, taken from Astronomy Picture of the Day, is of a nearby (only 60 million or so light years) group of galaxies called Hickson 44, in the direction of the constellation Leo. There are four galaxies in the picture. Three of them lie roughly in a row extending diagonally from just to the right of the bottom center to the upper left. The lower two of these are spiral galaxies similar to our own; the other, which looks like a slightly misty bright star, is an elliptical galaxy (the bright, bluish object at the upper right is a star in our galaxy).

What I find fascinating is the galaxy that is just above and to the right of the largest spiral galaxy. It looks like it's doing a backflip in space. Perhaps this contortion is caused by the gravity of the other, nearby galaxies.