Did I just paint a picture in your mind of the first space themed movie or TV show you saw or perhaps the last? Or, maybe a simple picture of stars and general outer space?
The truth is galaxies are far more complex than that. Some if not most are extremely unique. In the universe there are two types of galaxies that are most prevalent spiral and elliptical (no I don’t mean the workout machine). Then there’s Hoag’s Object.
Now, according to StarDate.org there are two leading theories on how galaxies first came to be. Yes, we would like to think that after the Big Bang the dust settled and space was as we know it today, but in reality, nothing was that instant. About a billion years after The Big Bang, (quite a long time folks) the first galaxies were born. A galaxy’s birth is far more complicated than the birds and the bees talk we all have had with out parents. One way that was an “explain it all” way for a while, was that vast clouds of gas and dust collapsed under their own gravitational pull, allowing stars to form, and presto you got a shiny new galaxy. However, as times must and always will change, mostly due to advances in technology, yet another theory has come out of the wood work, and it has gained popularity. That theory states, that the universe contained many small “lumps” of matter, which clumped together to form galaxies. According to this theory, most of the large galaxies were spirals, that eventually merged and the elliptical galaxies were born.
So what makes Hoag’s Object so rare and unique? Well you see, when two galaxies come together to become an entirely new galaxy it basically becomes a survival of the fittest. It is difficult to imagine something as vast as space can be crowded, but it is, galaxies on their own are huge. Think about it for a minute, The Milky Way Galaxy, a very recognizable name as far as galaxies go, home of our solar system it itself is made up of many other galaxies it has gobbled up over millions of years. It’s nearest neighbor is Andromeda, and it is only 25 times the size of the both galaxies in distance away. That is not enough breathing room. So eventually a collision happens, and only one survives, becoming either spiral or elliptical, except you guessed it Hoag’s Object, this galaxy is unique in that is is both, and to be honest how it came to be so, cannot be explained by science, yet, yes theories abound, but none solid enough.
Now, collisions are not rare, in fact, they happen quite often, it makes one think of space as a gigantic game of Pac-Man. The universe is ever changing and evolving, even though when looking up at the night sky we see the same stars and the same phases of the moon, there is a world of action going on further than the eye can see.
Now with new galaxies being born most of witch are in the elliptical category thus supporting the new theory of creation by collision, one would ask about the stars, what happens to them, do they become further fuel for the crash or what? Well, it is vary rare that stars are scathed during these death matches, more often than not they are thrown out of orbit, they are tossed so far they become residents of a new galaxy or just float in space, this is due to the fact that the distance between stars is so great. Not all, however, is death, destruction and chaos, more often when new galaxies are created, millions of brand new stars are born, thus adding to the grand circle of life.
Yes, we all would like to see space as a very dark and void place to visit, and to the Astronauts that went to the moon, it might have appeared so, but if you look up photos of galaxies far from our own, Space is the most colorful and beautiful canvas of all.