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A light year is an incredible 9.5 trillion km! Bite-sized, mind blowing space facts about the Universe and the cosmos. Whether you're new to astronomy / astrophysics or not, check us out @ Image: NASA


Arp 227 consists of two galaxies in the constellation Pisces: the large (250,000 light-years across) lenticular galaxy NGC 474 (also known as UGC 864) located about 93 million light-years away, and the spiral galaxy NGC 470 at about 95 million light-years away. They lie at a separation of about 160,000 light-years.


This NASA image shows NGC 5194. M51's stretch of over 60,000 light-years dwarf its companion galaxy, NGC 5195. Credit: Hubble Space Telescope, NASA.


This planetary nebula, Mz3, is being cast off by a star similar to our Sun. The 1000-kilometer per second speed of the expelled gas, the light-year long length of the structure, and the magnetism of the star visible at the nebula's center, all imply Mz3 is hiding a second, dimmer star that orbits close in to the bright star. A competing hypothesis holds that the central star's own spin and magnetic field are channeling the gas. (ESA, NASA's Hubble, JPL-CalTech)


Located 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, the galaxy looks like a wagon wheel. The galaxy's nucleus is the bright object in the center of the image; the spoke-like structures are wisps of material connecting the nucleus to the outer ring of young stars. The galaxy's unusual configuration was created by a nearly head-on collision with a smaller galaxy about 200 million years ago.


This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image reveals a pair of one-half light-year long interstellar 'twisters' - eerie funnels and twisted-rope structures - in the heart of the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8) which lies 5,000 light-years away in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.


Wide-field image showing the region of WR 25 and Tr16-244. This cluster is embedded within the Carina Nebula, an immense cauldron of gas and dust that lies approximately 7500 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Carina, the Keel.


"There are so many chances, so many worlds, pouring down on us. Like most people I take no notice and let them flow away, aeons breaking back into the universes where they were made. We are universes dripping with worlds. All we have to do is choose. " - Jeanette Winterson. Photo: Newly discovered galaxy, SMM J2135-0102

from BBC News

'Rogue planet' spotted 100 light-years away

Astronomers have spotted a "rogue planet" - wandering the cosmos without a star to orbit - 100 light-years away. (via BBC News; image via ESO)


Using ESO's Very Large Telescope, an international team of astronomers has discovered a stunning rare case of a triple merger of galaxies. This system, which astronomers have dubbed 'The Bird' - albeit it also bears resemblance with a cosmic Tinker Bell - is composed of two massive spiral galaxies and a third irregular galaxy.