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Hugging galaxies

Hugging galaxies
Click for full image.

Cool image time! The Hubble Space Telescope science team today released the photo to the right, cropped and reduced to post here, of the interaction of three galaxies, the larger two of which look like they are hugging each other.

This galaxy triplet is estimated to be about just under 700 million light years away. It was taken as part of a program aimed at producing high quality images of strange looking galaxies.

Using Hubble’s powerful Advanced Camera for Surveys, astronomers took a closer look at some of the more unusual galaxies that volunteers identified. The original Galaxy Zoo project was the largest galaxy census ever carried out and relied on crowdsourcing time from more than 100,000 volunteers to classify 900,000 unexamined galaxies. The project achieved what would have been years of work for a professional astronomer in only 175 days and has led to a steady stream of similar astronomical citizen science projects. Later Galaxy Zoo projects have included the largest ever studies of galaxy mergers and tidal dwarf galaxies, as well as the discovery of entirely new types of compact star-forming galaxies.

If you want to do some real science, you should definitely check out the Galaxy Zoo webpage. Anyone can join in, using images produced by the Victor Blanco 156 inch (4 meter) telescope in Chile to find cool stuff that needs closer examination using better telescopes like Hubble.

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.


  • Alex Andrite

    “This galaxy triplet is estimated to be about just under 700 million light years away. ”

    Just under … 700 million light years away.
    I was worried there for a moment, even checked my “go bag” to be certain I loaded a tooth brush.

    On the serious note, truly amazing and beautiful.

  • wayne

    Galaxy Collisions: Simulation vs Observations
    Hubble Space Telescope 2014

  • Edward

    The YouTube description says, in part: “This structure is stable when left alone, but is relatively easily disturbed when another galaxy passes near.

    Since it is stable in the model, they must have figured out how to include dark matter in the model.

  • Jeff Wright

    Looks like one is spanking the other over the knee.

  • Max

    Ha ha, good one Edward.

    Oh there’s the dark matter, see the trailing edges of stars as they’re flung into deep space? That’s the dark matter, still traveling in the same direction having too much mass to slow down to collide…
    Is this what happens when dark matter collides? Nothing? Because we can’t see it?
    I was hoping that the addition of three galaxies colliding times that of the dark matter would cause such a severe increase in gravity that the entire area would be red shifted due to time and space dilation…. Oh well, time to rework the theory.
    I know! (I have a guess), maybe dark matter is diamagnetic? That photons, with the negative charge, are accelerated into the blue spectrum?
    That means that the red galaxies don’t have dark matter and that’s why they’re irregular… Not enough gravity holding them together!
    See? I can pretend to be an astrophysicist too!

  • BLSinSC

    IF the Hubble can see that far and that detailed why don’t they aim it at the space junk about to hit the moon??

  • BLSinSC: Hubble can’t focus on such objects that close. The closest objects it can generally observe are objects from from Mars outward.

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