Okay. So you all know that there are BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of galaxies in the known universe, right? Right.
And most of them don’t have common names. I mean, who has the time to come up with that many names? Seriously.
Also, who has time to remember all those names? I sure don’t. But I’m going to remember this one.
Named after its wagon-wheel shape (check it out on NASA’s website), the Cartwheel Galaxy is located about 500 million light years away from us here on Earth. And if that sounds far, it’s not. At least not compared to galaxy MACS0647-JD (clearly, this one did not get a common name) at 13.3 BILLION light years away. I believe it is the record holder for most distant object ever seen in the universe. For now.
But back to the Cartwheel Galaxy!
Admittedly, I just like this one because of its cute shape and name (I’m a sucker for that stuff, what can I say?). But I also think it’s cool that it used to be a regular spiral galaxy, like the Milky Way, until its shape was distorted by a violent galactic collision about 200 million years ago. Violent. Galactic. Collision. Sounds kind of awesome, doesn’t it? Scary, too.
Let’s hope our Milky Way avoids the same fate.
Oh, wait. It turns out that the Milky Way is currently on a collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy! But don’t panic too much. Astronomers estimate that the two galaxies won’t collide for another four billion years or so.