Saturday, February 19, 2011

NASA Photo of the Day

A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way, but this close-up Hubble image spans about 34,000 light-years along the the galaxy's inner region. X-ray images suggest that resulting winds and stellar explosions create plumes of hot gas extending into a halo around NGC 2841.

I keep posting these NASA images (a) to remind myself and everyone that our tax dollars do some wonderful things and (b) because the beauty of the universe is an antidote to the nastiness of human behavior.

Not all human behavior, by any means. The demonstrators in Egypt and Bahrain and the other Arab and African countries and Wisconsin are noble and worthy of the stars.


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