Awesome! Plain and simply awesome.
From the Hubble website. Here’s the description of the image:
“Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh‘s famous painting, is renowned for its bold whorls of light sweeping across a raging night sky. Although this image of the heavens came only from the artist’s restless imagination, a new picture from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope bears remarkable similarities to the van Gogh work, complete with never-before-seen spirals of dust swirling across trillions of kilometres of interstellar space.
This image, obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on February 8, 2004, is Hubble’s latest view of an expanding halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon).
The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light two years ago. V838 Mon is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Monoceros, placing the star at the outer edge of our Milky Way galaxy.
Here are my thoughts.
A single light-year is approximately 6 trillion miles, or 9,460,730,472,580.8 kms for the metric brigade! Thus 20,000 light-years is 120,000 trillion miles, or 120,000,000,000,000,000 miles.
It is beyond imagination – yet it is real!
It humbles one beyond measure that in this short lifetime on mine, science has reached out so far. And then one looks more closely to home and remains appalled that we have learnt so little about living in peace and with integrity on this funny third rock from the Sun.
The ultimate paradox!
By Paul Handover