Of all the countless celestial objects in the immense Universe, one of our most favourite is the object called the Antennae Galaxies or less poetic NGC 4038-4039, which is an unfolding merger of two major galaxies. Galaxy mergers happen all the time and everywhere, and take hundreds of millions of years to unfold.
As regards the Antennae galaxies, we have the privilege of being alive at the time that we can see two long tails (“antennae”) stretching out on either side of the central core, where we can still recognise the separate centres of the two individual galaxies. See an animation of the merger here.
We are inspired by the resemblance of the central region of the Antennae galaxies to the “Koru”, the unfurling spiral of the fern frond of the native New Zealand Silver Fern.
The Koru is symbolic in the tradition of the New Zealand Māori for the unfolding of new life, representing renewal and hope for the future. More here.
The video on our home page is gratefully obtained from the Hubble site.
Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble), and G. Bacon (STScI).