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Hubble snaps stunning barred spiral galaxy image - Comments

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 1 by Cook@Tahiti

I hope Hitchens is up there enjoying the bars

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 13:41:20 UTC | #915014

chawinwords's Avatar Comment 2 by chawinwords

Maybe I am crazy, but I wouldn't trade such an image from the Hubble telescope for all the religious stories ever made up. There is enough mystery and wonder in this one image to last for thousands of years, provided science is the master teacher/seeker and not story tellers of woo-poo (religious crap).

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 14:57:09 UTC | #915033

EricJon's Avatar Comment 3 by EricJon

beyond magnificence. and words.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:07:56 UTC | #915035

Naturalist1's Avatar Comment 4 by Naturalist1

I wonder how many civilizations within NGC1073 have developed comparable imaging technologies and are peering back at us thinking.....how many civilizations within our galaxie have developed comparable imaging technologies? I would speculate the odds of it are greater than they are lesser.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:39:44 UTC | #915044

Perfect Tommy's Avatar Comment 5 by Perfect Tommy

Hubble telescope is by far one of the most important scientific instruments we have ever constructed. Certainly, the basic design principles of the telescope are over 400 years old, but you can also say the Space Shuttle is doing what the Wright brothers did at the turn of the century :) But I am not being overly sentimental here, I think it's pretty obvious what this technological marvel has achieved in the last 15 years, barring an embarrassing stumble along the way (I remember all too well back in 95 when the news broke of the mirror being defective). Be it as it may, the Hubble has had one hell of a run.

Hubble is one of the best investments our space program has ever made. So far the tally is around 10 billion total for the entire cost of construction and subsequent servicing missions over the years. That is paltry, paltry, compared to what we spend on the military every year. How anyone can say this is a waste of money is beyond my imagination.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 15:41:12 UTC | #915047

John P's Avatar Comment 6 by John P

So what does the Milky Way look like from a comparable distance? Are we older or newer?

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 17:17:57 UTC | #915074

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 7 by aquilacane

I don't seem to get quite so weepy over this stuff. I give it the same weight as a spiral in a glass of poorly stirred chocolate milk or milk in tea. Maybe it has something to do with size not overwhelming me. I'm an asizeist (spelling?), I don't accept the belief that size is impressive or matters.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 17:35:00 UTC | #915075

Tryphon Tournesol's Avatar Comment 8 by Tryphon Tournesol

Comment 7 by aquilacane :

I don't seem to get quite so weepy over this stuff. I give it the same weight as a spiral in a glass of poorly stirred chocolate milk or milk in tea. Maybe it has something to do with size not overwhelming me. I'm an asizeist (spelling?), I don't accept the belief that size is impressive or matters.

It's not about size per se. It's about discoveries concerning our natural world, in this case the structure thereof. Although you are right to impute equal -I'd almost say fractalesque- beauty to the smaller distributions in your cup.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 17:50:13 UTC | #915078

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 9 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 6 by John P

So what does the Milky Way look like from a comparable distance? Are we older or newer?

The MIlky Way is also a barred spiral.....though the bar is not as pronounced as in the Hubble picture.

Here's an excellent little simulator which you will notice invariably ends up with barred spirals ( need to run it in 'sphere' mode ). The reasons are not quite the same as with real galaxies, but a good enough approximation.

http://www.synthetic-reality.com/galaxy.htm

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 20:03:12 UTC | #915118

DefenderOfReason!'s Avatar Comment 10 by DefenderOfReason!

Comment 7 by aquilacane :

I don't seem to get quite so weepy over this stuff. I give it the same weight as a spiral in a glass of poorly stirred chocolate milk or milk in tea. Maybe it has something to do with size not overwhelming me. I'm an asizeist (spelling?), I don't accept the belief that size is impressive or matters.

The sense of wonder I get from this kind of stuff is the same as the feeling of mystery and awe one would get from looking down into a never before explored cave or, say, a newly found ancient ruin.

And if the size of the universe fails to impress you then I'm not sure what would....

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 20:46:18 UTC | #915130

ridelo's Avatar Comment 11 by ridelo

I wonder if you can find there somewhere something like religious fundamentalism. Probably yes for it seems to go hand in hand - at least for a while - with the development of intelligent brains.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:03:19 UTC | #915138

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 7 by aquilacane

I don't seem to get quite so weepy over this stuff. I give it the same weight as a spiral in a glass of poorly stirred chocolate milk or milk in tea

On the contrary......this example of the fractal nature of reality is fascinating. An even closer resemblance to galaxies is the cloud systems of Atlantic storms.....its amazing how they can mimic something trillions of times larger.

From my own perspective, there is something supremely beautiful and awe inspiring about galaxies floating there in space......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g32C5fB92qw

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:25:56 UTC | #915143

squidward's Avatar Comment 13 by squidward

"I hope Hitchens is up there enjoying the bars" ...up where, Rtambree? The whole point of this website is to leave superstitions behind. There is no such thing as an afterlife.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:46:53 UTC | #915150

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 14 by Reckless Monkey

If you think this is impressive then have a look at the Hubble Ultra Deep Field View

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hubble_ultra_deep_field_high_rez_edit1.jpg

This image was taken from a tiny part of the sky "smaller than a 1 mm by 1 mm square of paper held at 1 meter away" (wikipedia) the exposure was taken over 16 hours at first it looks like a field of stars but zoom in and you'll find only 8 or so (from our galaxy). There are over 10 000 galaxies in this 1mm by 1mm at a 1m bit of sky, now how many of those do we have to fill up the whole sky. Considering most will have 100's of billions of stars in each and it does kinda put you firmly in your place and for me at least make me fell part of the same. Especially if you consider that you are directly being bombarded by that light of all those galaxies whether you feel or see it or not. You are literally connected to all of that in straight lines to the cores of what for most will be now dead stars. Some of which will alter our DNA and drive evolution (at least in part). The universe may not "love me", but it did make me, and I am part of all of that. All the more stratifying to know it is also true.

Mon, 06 Feb 2012 21:58:40 UTC | #915156

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 15 by Anaximander

So what does the Milky Way look like from a comparable distance? Are we older or newer?

Where (in time) do we put the line: now it is not a galaxy, now it is?

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 00:06:42 UTC | #915181

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 16 by Border Collie

Wish I knew how to reconcile the pettiness of every day life with this. I'm at a loss.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 01:16:38 UTC | #915200

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 17 by Steve Zara

Comment 16 by Border Collie

Wish I knew how to reconcile the pettiness of every day life with this. I'm at a loss.

Compared to you, a galaxy is nothing. A galaxy is dust, stars, space. You are more significant in this universe than any galaxy. Your mind is built from connections, growing, changing, learning. In your brain there are more connections than stars in a galaxy. There are more connections than stars in a thousand galaxies.

There are more ways to measure than dimensions of space and time. On the space of complexity we each shine like supernovae.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 01:25:27 UTC | #915201

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 18 by Reckless Monkey

Comment 17 by Steve Zara Compared to you, a galaxy is nothing. A galaxy is dust, stars, space. You are more significant in this universe than any galaxy. Your mind is built from connections, growing, changing, learning. In your brain there are more connections than stars in a galaxy. There are more connections than stars in a thousand galaxies.

Yes, but we are made of the galaxy. "Star Dust" as Carl Sagan put it and "the universes way of knowing itself". I liked Hitchens addition to Sagan's description "We are star dust or nuclear waste depending on your perspective" ;)

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 03:58:35 UTC | #915217

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

comment 18 by Reckless Monkey

Yes, but we are made of the galaxy.

I really like that idea. It sums up the way that it needs supernova after supernova to cook us up.

"Star Dust" as Carl Sagan put it and "the universes way of knowing itself".

That's definitely not to my taste. It's too sugar-sweet a metaphor. It's also a vague nod to pantheism.

I liked Hitchens addition to Sagan's description "We are star dust or nuclear waste depending on your perspective" ;)

That is so wonderfully Hitchens!

I have been reading recently about supernovae. We closely monitored the nearby one in 1987. The result was amazing: the decay of the luminosity was precisely as predicted by our best model of how a supernova works. The luminosity is from intense gamma rays resulting of the decay of a radioactive isotope of Nickel to iron. We can watch the way the iron in our blood was produced.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 04:17:37 UTC | #915218

HuntingGoodWill's Avatar Comment 20 by HuntingGoodWill

Comment 5 by Perfect Tommy :

So far the tally is around 10 billion total for the entire cost of construction and subsequent servicing missions over the years. That is paltry, paltry, compared to what we spend on the military every year. How anyone can say this is a waste of money is beyond my imagination.

Roughly 500 billion dollars is spent every year, worldwide, in the advertisement industry. Here, we have spent 10 billion dollars advertising space. "Cool ad, I'm buying" :)

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 06:47:40 UTC | #915231

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 21 by Reckless Monkey

Comment 19 by Steve Zara I have been reading recently about supernovae. We closely monitored the nearby one in 1987. The result was amazing: the decay of the luminosity was precisely as predicted by our best model of how a supernova works. The luminosity is from intense gamma rays resulting of the decay of a radioactive isotope of Nickel to iron. We can watch the way the iron in our blood was produced.

I did a couple of subjects in astronomy at Uni and being very poor at maths was worried how I would go. What I really grew to appreciate was the simple elegance of the connection between a beautiful mathematical equation like Keplers explanation of orbits of the planets and Newtons modification of the same and how much can be derived from both, I remember working out the mass of our galaxy (at least inside our Suns orbit with it) and being blown away with the power of it. I'm still rubbish at maths but I now think it is beautiful. Like looking at a fantastic painting - I can't do it very well but if you have a little understanding you can appreciate how good it is. When the sums come out you just know you're onto something.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 06:59:50 UTC | #915232

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 22 by nancynancy

I know from basic astronomy that the light from distant galaxies originated when the universe was much younger than it is today. But what does the author mean when he or she talks about a galaxy's age? Is it the number of birthdays the galaxy has had since it was born, or is it the number of birthdays the universe had when the galaxy was born? In what sense are closer galaxies "younger: than more distant ones?

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 12:42:03 UTC | #915258

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 23 by aquilacane

Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

On the contrary......this example of the fractal nature of reality is fascinating. An even closer resemblance to galaxies is the cloud systems of Atlantic storms.....its amazing how they can mimic something trillions of times larger.

Perhaps it's the mimic part that makes it less amazing. Except for size, it is quite normal (in general terms). Where everyone discusses super complexity I kind of see a simple little thing. I don't understand it but I also don't find it quite as varied and special. The idea that the universe is grand in scale seems counter intuitive or, at least, seen from a handicapped point of view.

I just assume the universe is not alone. Call me an ass but nothing seems to be singular. Why would the universe be singular? If not, what about all the other universes? What do their collective create? Our universe is pitiful in size compared to that, never mind what all of those new megaverses create. We become only slightly smaller than the universe at some point, barely worth the recognition. At some point, the universe becomes too small to even consider believing it exists. What tool could you use to reveal a universe when you're bigger than a googleverse?

Size only matters if you're in it's path, beyond that, it's an unavoidable byproduct of the natural existence of whatever you're looking at. Good to understand though and pretty, nice shape. Nature can do better.

Comment 17 by Steve Zara

On the space of complexity we each shine like supernovae.

Yes

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 13:37:06 UTC | #915269

isisdron's Avatar Comment 24 by isisdron

I wish there was a special afterlife just for space travel.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 15:45:59 UTC | #915294

Degsy's Avatar Comment 25 by Degsy

The words of Neil deGrasse Tyson have popped into my mind. This is from memory so forgive any inaccuracy.

'Every living thing on this planet is related biologically, and ergo, related chemically to the planet. And when we look at a star in the night sky, one of a hundred billion in our known galaxy which is but one of a hundred billion in the known universe, that is 13.7 billion years old and 15 billion light years across, we can say that we are related to all of it atomically'.

That an idiot like me can surmise that to be a relatively correct statement (I know the number of stars we can see as well as galaxies seems to always be increasing) speaks volumes about the wonders of such technologies and what it affords us.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 18:04:29 UTC | #915322

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 26 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 23 by aquilacane

Our universe is pitiful in size compared to that, never mind what all of those new megaverses create. We become only slightly smaller than the universe at some point, barely worth the recognition. At some point, the universe becomes too small to even consider believing it exists. What tool could you use to reveal a universe when you're bigger than a googleverse?

The irony is that these sort of statements, which I see people so often make in the name of rationality, are actually anthropomorphic. They are as invalid as some 'fine tuning' arguments.

Just how big does something have to be to count as 'significant' ? And just how small to count as 'insignificant' ?

If size counts for significance.....are fat people more significant than thin people ? If human beings were the size of galaxies...would they be more significant ? If they were smaller than atoms, would they be less significant ?

This is all the more relevant when one considers that there is really no such thing as 'the universe' as a single temporal entity. We like to imagine an existentially 'whole' universe in our minds....but in fact what actually 'exists' is a local reality ( see principle of local causes ) at gazillions of locations. Your universe is literally just the particles that interact with you locally.....be they from across the street or from long dead stars billions of light years away.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 18:37:49 UTC | #915331

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 27 by aquilacane

Just how big does something have to be to count as 'significant' ? And just how small to count as 'insignificant' ?

You miss my point. Size has no significance. We give it more weight than it is worth. That a universe can become so small to be considered insignificant is proof that we should try to remove our concept of size from the equation and look at what we are really dealing with.

I was looking for information on the smallest particle possible, a few years ago. I didn’t know what it was, so I looked it up. Can’t remember if I ever got what I was looking for, probably lost interest. I recall coming across neutrino, maybe that’s changed or was never right; it doesn’t matter.

My point is this, when I read the smallest particle is x because that’s the smallest thing we can observe I didn’t automatically go huh, so that’s the smallest. I automatically thought—you need a smaller, sharper knife to cut that neutrino open. But the smallest knife is a neutrino! Sounds like you’re shit out of luck. But don’t go claiming knowledge of the unknown. Make a guess, claim ignorance but don’t say, with certainty, it is the smallest! That’s dumb, that’s Einstein dumb (To claim a scientific absolute without adequate evidence to support it).

I wonder what will happen when we supercollide two Higgs Bozons together.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 21:40:14 UTC | #915406

AgriculturalAtheist's Avatar Comment 28 by AgriculturalAtheist

I love this stuff. There are many amazing photos of all sorts of galaxies available online now. Their size, shape, and number are a wonder to behold, as well as their beauty.

I disagree about being unimpressed by their size. A galaxy isn't an analogy of a big broadway production spectacle trying to outdo other venues. Their is no ego in the galaxy over its own size to boast, not that of a creator who made it. Rather, it is the KNOWLEDGE of size, and distance etc. that we should be proud of and impressed by. I mean, if you were there with Hubble, taking his photographic plates, realizing that these are not nebulae in our own galaxy but rather millions of times larger and further away, increasing the size of the (as he guessed, expanding) universe, would you have shrugged it off and said "that's nice - would anyone like some coffee?" Or is it that this is old news, and everyone should know it. I think any loss of wonder over any aspect of science, no matter how long ago it was discovered, is not healthy (in general).

Thu, 09 Feb 2012 15:16:15 UTC | #915877

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 29 by Schrodinger's Cat

Comment 27 by aquilacane

I was looking for information on the smallest particle possible, a few years ago. I didn’t know what it was, so I looked it up. Can’t remember if I ever got what I was looking for, probably lost interest. I recall coming across neutrino, maybe that’s changed or was never right; it doesn’t matter.

My point is this, when I read the smallest particle is x because that’s the smallest thing we can observe I didn’t automatically go huh, so that’s the smallest. I automatically thought—you need a smaller, sharper knife to cut that neutrino open. But the smallest knife is a neutrino! Sounds like you’re shit out of luck. But don’t go claiming knowledge of the unknown. Make a guess, claim ignorance but don’t say, with certainty, it is the smallest! That’s dumb, that’s Einstein dumb (To claim a scientific absolute without adequate evidence to support it).

What you probably came across was not the 'smallest particle' but the Planck length. Quarks and electrons strictly speaking don't have a 'size', because of their wave-like properties. Or putting it the other way round, if one wanted to talk about 'size' in a classic sense then one could ( and scientists have done ) talk about neutrinos the size of a galaxy.....

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/06/090602-particles-larger-than-galaxies.html

Thus the idea that particles are the 'smallest' things we know is strictly speaking not actually true. The largest thing in the entire universe could actually be defined as a photon having a wavelength equal to the diameter of the observable universe. Thus a 'particle' could be the 'largest' thing we know !

The Plank length, on the other hand, is a specific constant that effectively defines the smallest size at which size is actually a meaningful concept. Below a certain size, the other constants of nature conspire to make the whole notion of the size of an object ( or rather, the very existence of extension of a smaller object ) a meaningless notion.

That size......1.6 * 10-35 meters......is unimaginably small. In fact it is smaller, relative to the scale of an atom, than an atom is relative to the size of the universe.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 15:29:23 UTC | #916228