Two galaxies colliding 130 million light years away goes viral

An astrophotographer has captured a glorious photograph of two large galaxies colliding 130 million light years from Earth.

@JakConnorTT
Published Mon, May 23 2022 1:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Jun 10 2022 5:37 PM CDT

An amateur astrophotographer named Brendan O'Meal from New York has recently gone viral after taking an incredible photograph of two galaxies colliding.

O'Meal took to his TikTok and Instagram account to share an awesome image of ARP271, a pair of similarly sized interacting spiral galaxies more specifically named NGC 5426 and NGC 5427. The two colliding spiral galaxies reside in the constellation Virgo and are located about 130 million light years away from Earth. Notably, the ARP271 pair has a diameter of 130 million light years across, and judging by the comment section of the viral TikTok video, many people have just realized what a light-year actually means.

The TikTok video has, at the time of writing, been liked 1.8 million times and viewed 9.7 million times, with many commenters realizing that the image captured by telescope is of events that happened 130 million years ago. One commenter realized the same principles apply to viewing planets in search of life. If we observe a planet that's 100 million light years away, and see an alien civilization, it means that what we are seeing happened 100 million years ago.

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This is a common problem posed to researchers that are searching for life as it would certainly be useful to locate an alien species, but what if 100 million light years away? By the time we can make contact, we don't even know if the species is still alive. Additionally, we have no way of traveling that distance or maintaining human life for even a fraction of the travel time.

After putting all of these things into perspective, it's still extremely difficult to attempt to create a scale model of the universe with your imagination. The distances are just too far to accurately imagine, especially when you are trying to imagine traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles/sec) for millions of years.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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