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Hubble looks at a tight cluster of five galaxies

Hickson Compact Group 40
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate the telescope’s 32nd year in orbit. This cluster of five galaxies is dubbed Hickson Compact Group 40.

This menagerie includes three spiral-shaped galaxies, an elliptical galaxy, and a lenticular (lens-like) galaxy. Somehow, these different galaxies crossed paths in their evolution to create an exceptionally crowded and eclectic galaxy sampler.

Caught in a leisurely gravitational dance, the whole group is so crowded that it could fit within a region of space that is less than twice the diameter of our Milky Way’s stellar disk.

Though such cozy galaxy groupings can be found in the heart of huge galaxy clusters, these galaxies are notably isolated in their own small patch of the universe, in the direction of the constellation Hydra.

The red streaks in three galaxies is thought to be dust, suggesting that stars are still forming in these galaxies. The vertical galaxy on the right is seen edge on. Note too the tilted ring that appears to surround the galaxy on the left.

As for Hubble’s anniversary, the press release notes that since launch in 1990 the space telescope has made 1.5 million observations covering 50,000 heavenly objects, an archive of data available to anyone to access.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Cotour

    It’s really crazy when you, a human being, sitting in front of your computer screen 13.8 billion years after a moment when time and the material universe began and look at a picture like that and understand that that is what we are and where we come from.

    It does not make sense, but there it is all the same.

    So crazy.

  • Klystron

    How many worlds are out there?

  • Alton

    A trillion galaxies…..

    Over 229 million stars in the Milky Way and still counting…

    World’s. ???

    Civilizations existing today ???

    Civilizations that have risen and fallen Over at least Ten Billion years…….


  • Jeff Wright

    If only we were in one of those and were a moon of Saturn- the VIEW!

  • Cotour

    I think the ultimate question that we have to ask ourselves is:

    What if any is the limit of our capacity to understand it all?

    We must face the fact that we may not have that capacity. There exist things that we observe that we are just unable to rationally understand and explain.

    Just like an ape can never, ever, ever understand the value of pie, we may only be able to see and understand just so much.

    And I suppose that humanity may be able to fashion some degree of AI leverage that allows us to see further than we are able to see much like the Hubble and WEB space telescopes provide. But do we have the capacity to understand what we observe either here on planet earth or in the expanse of the universe?

    How will we know the difference?

  • Ray Van Dune

    The value of pie depends on how hungry you are.

  • Cotour

    I like cherry pie ;)

  • Star Bird

    I have wondered what happened to Hubble I thought it might have been deactivated

  • Andi

    Pie are round,
    Cornbread are square :)

  • Alex Andrite

    Pi ?
    I Love rhubarb pie.

    I propose that it is very fine to acknowledge the term “Mystery”, then to sit back and observe those mysteries.

    Such Beauty.
    Such Mystery.
    Peace, be Still.

  • Jeff Wright observed: “If only we were in one of those and were a moon of Saturn- the VIEW!”

    The Radiation!

    The view would be million-dollar, but I think radiation is an underappreciated condition of interstellar (or intrastellar) travel. I think if interstellar travel is viable, we are gong to spend resources on shielding (moving a lot of mass around), or genetic engineering. If we find a way to operate ‘outside’ 4D space, another set of problems. But I’d plan on the old-fashioned method.

  • pzatchok

    Even if we could travel at the speed of light we would still be limited.
    Very limited compared to the real size of the universe.

    But it would be nice to turn around and look back at the earth once in a while.

  • Gary M.

    This post prompted me and my astronomy buddies to try to observe this object. It was positioned nicely for our evening of observing on April 23, 2022. Here are my notes:

    Hickson 40 (PGC27509) (ARP231)
    Constellation Hydra
    Mag +13.77
    Distance 300 Mly
    Observing Location: Bonanza Conservation Area, Caldwell County Missouri
    Transparency: Excellent
    Seeing: Excellent
    Power: 310X
    Temperature: 52 degrees F
    Wind: South at 3 knots
    Date: April 23, 2022
    Time: 10:23PM local CDT
    Instrument: Newtonian, 18.5″ mirror @ f/3.5

    Tight group that appears as one lumpy object, very faint, very small, round with faint lumps apparent with averted vision, these lobes are the adjacent Hickson 40b, 40c, 40d, and were glimpsed intermittently.

    (Previously posted in the wrong topic.)

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