Thirty-two years after it was launched into space, the HST team celebrated the Hubble Space Telescope’s contribution to space exploration by publishing a photograph of five galaxies which are merging into one. Talk about a merger! This event is expected to take about a billion years to finish. I keep wondering, what’s the due diligence on something like this?
The five galaxies involved are called the Hickson Compact Group (HCG) 40, an interesting name for a progressive rock group. (Their music is probably spacy, doncha think?) Contemplating this information is staggering on many levels. One, that we’ve achieved the capabilities as a species to look into deep space and understand this. Two, that the event will take so long. Such patience is required. If I was one of the stars involved in the galaxy merger, I’d be, like, man, this is taking forever. Such is my response at a grocery store when I need to wait an extra sixty seconds because people can’t remember their PIN (no, I’m not looking at my wife), or my exasperation rising due to pages loading v e e r r r y s s s l l o o o w w w l l l y y y on the net. I can’t imagine waiting a billion years for anything, although it’s all relative, innit? Stars live longer than I do, so far as we know at this point.
So if you have the time and resources, that is to say, if you’re not suffering from food and housing insecurity, and you’re not a refugee from war, famine, or natural disaster, and if you have the net connections and a computer, in other words, if you’re a fortunate person in relative measure, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider this far-away event. Helps add a little more perspective.