Humanity has been fascinated for many thousands of years by what goes on beyond our planet. From the first ‘astronomers’ who described and recorded the motion of our sun, moon and planets in Babylonia, via the well-known Greek astronomers who still thought that the earth was the center of the universe, up to and including the pole Copernicus, which was regarded as first described our solar system, with the sun at the center and planets revolving around it.
Hubble and James Webb
Copernicus could already use a telescope. However, it was in no way comparable to the telescopes we use to look at the stars today. Not to mention the Hubble that has been providing us with beautiful pictures for decades and has made the necessary discoveries. However, the Hubble has had a formidable competitor for a year now: the James Webb space telescope. He has already amazed us with his view on ‘deep space’.
The most recent spectacular photo that NASA published this week comes from Hubble. It recently spotted three intertwining galaxies that are about to collide with each other and twist into each other. Well, on point is a relative term, because the galaxies are still about 50,000 light-years apart. That sounds, and is, an enormous distance, but for galaxies that is almost literally ‘side by side’. By comparison, the closest galaxy to ours (the Milky Way) is Andromeda, about 2.5 million light-years away.
These three galaxies are on a collision course and will eventually merge into one larger galaxy, distorting each other’s spiral structure through mutual gravitational interaction in the process.