The galaxy clusters that evoke Gene Roddenberry


New image bears resemblance to classic TV sci-fi.


It’s a galaxy, Jim, but not as we know it.

It’s a galaxy, Jim, but not as we know it.

X-ray: NASA/CXC/Leiden Univ./F. de Gasperin et al; Optical: SDSS; Radio: LOFAR/ASTRON, NCRA/TIFR/GMRT

It requires a bit of squinting and a benevolent imagination, but it is certainly possible to see why the good folk at NASA recently described this image of a galaxy cluster known as Abell 1033 as resembling the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.

The picture arises from a combination of X-ray, radio wave and optical data gathered by the Chandra observatory, the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) in the Netherlands and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) in New Mexico, US.

Abell 1033 is actually two galaxy clusters, in the process of colliding. It is located about 1.6 billion light-years from Earth – a fair way away, even for Kirk, Spock, Scotty and the crew.

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