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.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.