The galaxy, embracing more than 100 trillion stars, is the extremely bright object at the center of a rich cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2029. Analysis of new telescopic images indicates that the object is a distinct galaxy more than six million light years in diameter, scientists report in the issue of the journal Science published today.
Just how large is it? At its largest point, this galaxy extends about 2 million light-years from its core, and it has a mass of about 100-trillion stars. To give you some idea of what this means, the Milky Way is just 100,000 light-years in diameter. If our galaxy were to be replaced with this super-giant, it would swallow up both Magellanic clouds, the Andromeda galaxy, the Triangulum galaxy, and almost all the space in between. That is simply staggering.
Tardigrades are notable for being perhaps the most durable of known organisms; they are able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to rehydrate, forage, and reproduce.
What fascinates me about them is that they are so resilient. I couldn’t help but imagine a possible future where humans are long gone and these little creatures become the dominant species on this planet after growing a little and developing technology.
My son asked me about space travel and we started talking about the Voyager 1 and 2 probes that were launched in the late 1970s and sent out to the outer planets. Those probes have begun their journey into interstellar space after passing out of our solar system.