The galaxies you see in the image to the right, VV 340 North (top) and VV 340 South (bottom), are careening towards each other and on a cosmic collision course. The Hubble Telescope took the photo and it shows the two galaxies “in the early stages of their interaction.” They will become fully entwined several million years from now, but since the galaxies are 450 million light years away, the collision already happened. Okay, our head hurts.
If any life existed in those galaxies, it is a safe bet to say that the collision annihilated it. But considering the new, combined galaxy has had 400 or so million years of wiggle room, new life may have already started to evolve there. Due to the speed light travels, we won’t be able see that new galaxy for another 400 or so million years. It may be gone completely by the time you look up at the sky tonight, although you’ll never know it.
In related news, police are investigating a prank in Illinois after several attendees at a band camp were given brownies that, unbeknownst to them, had been laced with marijuana.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 14, 2011