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.

(via astro-stoner)


Mars Madness

NASA’s latest and greatest nuclear-powered, laser-shooting Curiosity rover has arrived at its target destination, Mount Sharp, two years after it landed on Mars last August. Its primary scientific objective was to find out whether or not Mars could have supported life as we know it. In its first year of operation, the Curiosity rover had already confirmed that it found strong evidence that, yes, ancient Mars may have been able to support life.  

By examining the grounds of Gale Crater, where it landed, the rover discovered that Mars was a lot warmer and wetter in the past. Curiosity even found evidence of a rushing river and life-supporting chemicals!  And all of this was before the rover reached its intended location to research.  

Curiosity’s work is especially fascinating because it represents the epitome of technology, exemplifying our uniquely human ability to create tools to reach heights that our humanness would otherwise have limited. As Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, commented, Curiosity now begins “a new chapter from an already outstanding introduction to the world”, and we can’t wait to read this new chapter.

Click the picture above to read more about the Curiosity rover at

Submitted by Aram H., Discoverer

Edited by Peggy K. and Yi Z.

(via galaxyclusters)