We need these, in space
An Interacting Colossus
This picture, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), shows a galaxy known as NGC 6872 in the constellation of Pavo (The Peacock).
Its unusual shape is caused by its interactions with the smaller galaxy that can be seen just above NGC 6872, called IC 4970. They both lie roughly 300 million light-years away from Earth.
From tip to tip, NGC 6872 measures over 500 000 light-years across, making it the second largest spiral galaxy discovered to date. In terms of size it is beaten only by NGC 262, a galaxy that measures a mind-boggling 1.3 million light-years in diameter!
To put that into perspective, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, measures between 100 000 and 120 000 light-years across, making NGC 6872 about five times its size.
A careful look at this colorful cosmic snapshot reveals a surprising number of galaxies both near and far toward the constellation Ursa Major.
The most striking is NGC 3718, the warped spiral galaxy near picture center. NGC 3718’s spiral arms look twisted and extended, mottled with young blue star clusters. Drawn out dust lanes obscure its yellowish central regions. A mere 150 thousand light-years to the right is another large spiral galaxy, NGC 3729.
The two are likely interacting gravitationally, accounting for the peculiar appearance of NGC 3718. While this galaxy pair lies about 52 million light-years away, the remarkable Hickson Group 56 can also be seen clustered above NGC 3718, near the top of the frame. Hickson Group 56 consists of five interacting galaxies and lies over 400 million light-years away.
There are over 5000 galaxies in this image down to 24th magnitude.
Txch This Week: Bridge-Building Robots And Brain-To-Brain Instant Messaging
This week on Txchnologist, we watched Purdue University engineers work on “robotic fabric” – a material that blends cotton with flexible polymer sensors and actuators made of shape-memory alloy that bends and contracts when electric current is applied. Because of its ability to change shape, the material could be used to create customizable soft robots as well as wearable performance-enhancing garments.
Rebecca Erikson, an applied physicist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has created a microscope capable of magnifying objects up to 1,000 times by taking a glass bead and embedding it in a housing she built on a 3-D printer. This system can fit over a smartphone’s camera and costs less than a dollar in materials to produce, can magnify objects up to 1,000 times, giving the power of microscopic sight to emergency responders needing to identify biological specimens in the field, teachers, students and anyone with access to a 3-D printer.
NASA research scientist Walter Meier has reported that the Arctic Ocean is losing around 13 percent of its sea ice per decade – the ice that covers the Arctic region reached its likely minimum extent for the year last week. However, the Antarctic’s ice coverage has now surpassed its largest maximum extent since 2013.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.