A newly released composite photo of the Abell 1033 galaxy cluster, which is about 1.6 billion light years from Earth, bears a striking resemblance to the Star Trek spacecraft Enterprise.
Credit: X-Ray: NASA / CXC / Leiden Univ./F. de Gasperin et al; Optics: SDSS; Radio: LOFAR / ASTRON, NCRA / TIFR / GMRT
Is this the USS Enterprise blurring as it does the jump to speed bending?
Well no. But a new photo of the Abell 1033 cluster of galaxies certainly catches the eye of the famous "Star Trek" spacecraft.
The image, which was released on Thursday (November 15), is a compound that combines observations in optical light as well as wavelengths of X-rays and radio, the latter two represented by the colors purple and blue respectively. [USS Enterprise Evolution : The Many Faces of Star Trek’s Favorite Starship]
Optical data were collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the X-ray by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the radio by the Low-Frequency Array network in the Netherlands.
Abell 1033 is about 1.6 billion light years from Earth. The object is actually two clusters of galaxies that come together in a dramatic and highly energetic crush that is generating shock waves and other forms of turbulence in that space-time space.
"In Abell 1033, the collision interacts with another cosmic energetic process – the production of high-speed particle jets by spiraling matter in a supermassive black hole, in this case located in a galaxy in one of the clusters," Chandra mission team members wrote Thursday in a description of the image.
"These jets are revealed by radio emission to the left and right sides of the image," they added. "Radio emission is produced by electrons spiraling around the lines of the magnetic field, a process called synchrotron emission."
The radio emission observed at Abell 1033 covers a colossal 500,000 light-years, said team members Chandra. The electrons responsible for this emission have probably been re-energized, a result that the researchers announced and explained in an October 2017 study. You can read it online for free at arXiv.org.
The newly disclosed image is an example of pareidolia, which describes the tendency of the human brain to see familiar shapes in more or less random data. Other examples include the famous "Face on Mars" and the various creatures that some people see on the rocks of the Red Planet photographed over the years by NASA's Curiosity rover.
Mike Wall's book on the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), is now available. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow Us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally posted on Space.com.