This big girl is on our tail and closing fast.
There's a black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy that is our
home. A really big one.
In fact, there are black holes all over the universe, and astronomers
think it likely that at the center of most galaxies is a black hole. Not
only that, but these galactic black holes seem to play a major role in
the evolution of galaxies.
This was some of the information I picked up on a recent episode of
Nova called "Monster of the Milky Way."
I had heard about the black hole in the center of the galaxy thing a
number of years back. But I suppose that what interested me the most
about this episode of the PBS series was information they presented on
the evolution of galaxies. The evolution of stars and planetary systems
I was familiar with. But looking at the cycle of the galaxies all across
our space-time universe — and there are literally billions of them —
was truly a mind blowing experience.
It's a huge universe. But sometimes even for all of its hugeness it gets
a bit crowded. Occasionally, galaxies will run into each other. This is
a part of the evolution of galaxies also — that sometimes two will merge
to form a new supergalaxy. In fact our own Milky Way and the Andromeda
galaxy, one of our universal neighbors, will probably collide with each
other in about 3 billion years. Let's hope they both have a hell of a lot
All I can say is — God is the greatest creative artist I've ever known.
The product of what he set in motion just floors me.
"There's no better hole that you could
possibly imagine than a black hole."
— Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist
(And no, as incredibly tempting as it is,
I'm not going a make a joke about that one.)
NGC 6050/IC 1179 (Arp 272) is a remarkable collision between two
spiral galaxies, NGC 6050 and IC 1179, and is part of the Hercules
Galaxy Cluster, located in the constellation of Hercules. The galaxy
cluster is part of the Great Wall of clusters and superclusters, the
largest known structure in the universe. The two spiral galaxies are
linked by their swirling arms. Arp 272 is located some 450 million
light-years away from Earth. (Photo and caption courtesy of NASA.)
Arp 148 is the staggering aftermath of an encounter between two
galaxies, resulting in a ring-shaped galaxy and a long-tailed companion.
The collision between the two parent galaxies produced a shockwave
effect that first drew matter into the center and then caused it to
propagate outwards in a ring. The elongated companion perpendicular
to the ring suggests that Arp 148 is a unique snapshot of an ongoing
collision. Arp 148 is nicknamed Mayall's Object and is located in the
constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, approximately 500 million
light-years away. (Photo and caption courtesy of NASA.)