A Galaxy Not So Far, Far Away…

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | June 19, 2009 3:40 pm


Herschel–the largest far-infrared telescope launched into space–has captured it’s first image and Phil’s got the details!

Known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, M51 is practically our neighbor at just 25 million light years away.

I can’t help but wonder if just maybe, someone there may be looking back at us…


Comments (7)

  1. Erasmussimo

    I can’t help but wonder if just maybe, someone there may be looking back at us…

    This galaxy is roughly the same size as our own, so its probability of having intelligent civilizations is the same as that for our galaxy — which, IMO, is pretty large. And with plenty of intelligent civilizations each populated by millions or billions of individuals, the odds that one of them is looking in our direction right now are very high.

    There’s just one problem: they’re seeing our galaxy as it was 25 million years ago. That doesn’t include us. Nevertheless, we should still wave to the people in that galaxy who will see the light from our galaxy in 25 million years.

  2. Erasmussimo

    …and if we DO wave to the people in that galaxy, we should put a message in our iPhones to remind us to look for them waving back in 50 million years.

  3. Speaking of LGM, you should check out Seth Shostak’s new book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

    Shostak is the senior astronomer at the SETI institute in California

  4. What a beautiful picture. I’m amazed at what comes from Hubbel and now this.


    BRAVO E.S.A.!!!

  6. Linda

    I am, and always have been completely fascinated with the Cosmos. I did not know about Herschel, or the Whirlpool Galaxy. Discover is an interesting learning experience. Thanks.

  7. Giordano Bruno said:
    This galaxy is roughly the same size as our own, so its probability of having intelligent civilizations is the same as that for our galaxy

    Which is almost exactly like saying that Mars and Venus have the same probability for life as the Earth does, since they are approximately the same mass, the same distance from the Sun, are formed out of the same material, and had approximately the same initial temperatures.

    And you would be wrong.


    But don’t feel too bad, because these bogus anticentric projections of mediocrity that do not fit the data are also the reason why physicists are begrudgingly known for their unscientific religious practice of “Copernicanism”.

    The probabilities for finding life on Mars and Venus are not the same as they are for Earth because they exist outside of the planetary habitable zone, so for the same empirically supported reason, you are not going to find life within M51 unless it is in the intergalactic habitable zone.

    Copernicanism… the bogus religion of scientists and other liberals everywhere…


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


See More

Collapse bottom bar