Favourite galaxy

August 18, 2008

Do you have a favourite galaxy? I do.

While I’m partial to the Milky Way for obvious reasons (although, dorky name guys. Right up there with Uranus. Sorry, but get with the programme) my current favourite is NGC 4622.

It spins backwards.

The arms of a galaxy tend to trail behind it, as you would expect. Stir the milk into your tea and watch as the ‘arms’ of milk trail behind the spinning core.

Not my favourite galaxy though. The arms spin forwards of the core.

This might be the result of a collision between two galaxies, but then again it might not.

The reason why I like this is that it’s a very vivid reminder: we might think we know all there is to know about the universe but we don’t. The Victorians used to boast (apparently) about how they’d discovered all there was to discover and that was that. History was done. They hadn’t even got electricity sorted out at that stage.

So any time I think about faster than light travel, immortality, parallel universes, life on other worlds or any of the other impossibilities (including, funnily enough, religion) I tend to think about NGC 4622.

Here’s one final link to a story about it, included not for the extra information but for the video ad for EVE Empyrean, the online massive multi-player role playing game that looks gorgeous.

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2 Responses to “Favourite galaxy”

  1. Frank Hatch Says:

    NGC 4622 is only “an inconvenient galaxy” to a Closed System of Analysis (i.e., using a finite number of dimensions and variables).

    • audent Says:

      That’s why I like it so much. It’s one of those things you can point to that reminds the scientists that they don’t know everything. I’m a big fan of science – it works! – but I’m a bigger fan of having actual proof rather than theories that may/may not stack up.

      But NGC 4622 intrigues me endlessly. It always made perfect sense to me that galaxies have the spiral shape because they spin that way and the arms trail behind them. Having one that doesn’t is a bit like finding a class mate who can avoid the law of gravity (or similar).


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