Meet NGC 4921. An odd spiral galaxy, located in the Coma Galaxy Cluster, at a distance of about 320 million light-years from Earth.
When the light that makes up this image first started on it’s trip to us, the dinosaurs were still in Earth’s future.
What’s interesting to me, though, is not so much the galaxy, as cool as it is. It’s that almost every other speck of light in that image is also a galaxy! And they’re even farther from us than 4921. They’re millions and billions of light-years away, and they are countless.
It’s pictures like this that make me wonder… if we could magnify these images, and zoom into this galaxy, or the ones beyond, what would we see? Would we see other beings looking back at us? Or rather, looking at the Earth as it was 320 million years or more ago? And if we could see them looking at our primeval Earth, what would they be like? What would they look like? And what became of them in the intervening time? Are they still there? Have others risen up to take their place? Is there a vast stellar Federation, with ships plying the star lanes? Factions and wars? Beings evolved beyond anything we can imagine?
Or could it be only inanimate matter there? Perhaps nobody looking over at our rather average spiral galaxy, wondering if anyone is home here? I hope not. I hope there was/is someone out there, looking back at us. Maybe someday we’ll be able to say “hi, neighbor”, and have them say hello back.
This image is from an iPhone app, Star Walk, astronomy picture of the day.