Spirals have inspired art and architecture for much of human history. But the original source of that inspiration is nature where spirals appear in such diverse life forms as corals, fern tendrils, and seashells – most famously the Nautilus. It doesn’t end there. Spirals literally lurks in the vast expanse of the Universe, unseen except through the most powerful telescopes as captured by the following two images.
Birth of a Baby Planet
A star is born, in this case literally. This beautiful image was captured recently by a very powerful telescope at the European Observatory. It reveals the first direct evidence of a baby planet coming into existence (the yellow ‘twist’ region in the centre), kicking up a spiral “storm” of gas and dust as it rotates around a central star.
A Pair of Interacting Galaxies
Our second image shows a pair of interacting galaxies, both about the same size. Galaxy pairs like these were discovered by the German-British astronomer William Herschel in 1785. The current pair is located 120 million light-years away from us. Some astronomers believe these galaxies are in the process of forming a single entity. While they interact, they will create increasingly numbers of new stars over the next few million years, some of which can be already be seen within the “bridge” of gas connecting the two galaxies.