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January 20, 2005

Galactic cluster foul-up

The ESA Portal hosts an image of galactic clusters colliding. This is too big for my nervous system to process properly (via Mr. Sun).

The event details what the scientists are calling the perfect cosmic storm: galaxy clusters that collided like two high-pressure weather fronts and created hurricane-like conditions, tossing galaxies far from their paths and churning shock waves of 100-million-degree gas through intergalactic space. The tiny dots in this artist's concept are galaxies containing thousand million of stars.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at January 20, 2005 05:37 AM

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It's difficult to imagine shock waves of 100 million degree gas that completely envelop multiple galaxies, on both sides. And of course, it would all take place over millions of years, given the awesome distances involved when discussing multiple groups of galaxies.

It's hard to imagine anything survivng in that, though perhaps the solar wind around individual stars would be strong enough to keep the shockwaves out of inner solar systems. Then again, perhaps not. Would love some commentary on that from an astronomer.

Otherwise, the image that comes to mind is an advanced civilization noting the shockwaves (presumably, light moves faster than the gas), and knowing what's coming, and having to decide what to do... if anything. Faced with that awesome wave of doom, even stepping out of the entire galactic cluster may not offer protection - as some of the thermal photos amply demonstrate.

FYI and OT, your TypeKey sign-in system is broken....

Posted by: Joe Katzman [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2005 03:42 PM

That's pretty cool to look at, but not really something I want to happen around here.

Posted by: Rex [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 20, 2005 08:52 PM