Living on planet Earth contains many different varieties in terrains and environmental conditions that are present on any given day. While many planets and satellites lack atmospheres, even a planet like Mars with its small amount of atmosphere has particulate matter in the air that can obscure the night sky. Here on Earth it is often clear enough that even Andromeda can be seen. On the other hand, some nights make it too difficult to even see the closest star.
Thankfully, enough data has been collected that anyone can go to their computer and see pictures of the night sky even when conditions are not good enough for seeing the sky with the naked eye. So in preparation for possible poor viewing conditions, this week, the focus will be looking through the eyes of the more powerful telescopes to see one of the greatest parts of the night sky: the total array of Galaxies that make up the Universe.
A quick search for the term “galaxy” in any search engine will reveal the dazzling varietyof forms that galaxies can take. Whether it is the magnificent tight spiral of Andromeda a nearby neighbor to the Milky Way, or the tortured but awe-inspiring destruction of the Tadpole Galaxy. The Universe expresses its beauties of physics and thermodynamics through these massive celestial bodies. For the most part, galaxies are made up of a few common structure: stars, gases, lost planets, and dark matter. The dense core, or bulge, is thought to be made up of older stars that have fallen back towards the center of the galaxy or they might have been the original denizens of the galaxy. In more complex and mature galaxies, bar and arm structures form that are less dense than the bulge. These arms slowly spin along with the main bulge, though the exact mechanisms are still being debated upon, and are believed to phase in and out of forming new arms.
An amazing fact about galaxies is that they are so large that they can be seen across the Universe. The Hubble Deep field, located within Ursa Major, a very dim and dark area that is impossible to see from earth, is just a small part of the total tapestry that displays the origin of our Universe. So far the oldest object that has been seen in this area lies 13.1 billion years back in the past, only around 600 million years younger than the beginning of the universe itself. By looking at galaxies back at the beginning of time, it is easier to understand what forces placed the galaxy in its current state of being.
Peace, and May the Stars Shine Brightly in your skies