The renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s 100th year anniversary since the publication of his relativity theory comes with photos of the Cheshire Cat galaxies released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA.
With the help of Einstein’s theory of relativity, countless discoveries have been made across our planet in relation with our solar system, our Milky Way galaxy and even the entire universe because it can be applied to all space entities which are in constant motion, at any speed which they might have.
By studying the relationship between time and space that these objects have, researchers, scientists, astrophysicists and astronomers were capable of judging their distance, their speed and other aspects of their existence from the comfort of our planet.
This NASA release of the photos is not merely coincidental. The specific form which the galaxies have when colliding with each other to create a structure similar to the face of the smiling Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland is due to a process called gravitational lensing. This gravitational lensing provided the basis for Einstein to create his Theory of General Relativity.
Gravitational lensing refers to how electromagnetic radiation and light which are emanated by certain celestial objects get diverted from their original path by the foreground gravitational force exerted by galaxies and solar systems which are directly between the object we look at and us.
Another reason for the strange Cheshire Cat formation is the large quantity of dark matter found in its vicinity. Even though dark matter is almost completely invisible, the effects of its gravitational force can still be seen and documented upon.
This specific galaxy will eventually become what is known as a fossil galaxy, a stage through which all galaxies must pass during their evolutionary process. By colliding, the two galaxies that form the Cheshire Cat will become one massive elliptical galaxy surrounded by dimmer and smaller galaxies.
This type of temporary evolutionary stage has not been completely investigated upon due to our lack of advanced methods through which one could do such a thing. Scientists could only theorize what could happen when transforming into a fossil galaxy. Because our constant advance in science and technology, starting today astronomers will finally be able to see if their theories match what will happen with the Cheshire Cat galaxy.
With that being said, the news that Einstein’s 100th year anniversary since the publication of his relativity theory comes with photos of the Cheshire Cat galaxies will allow everyone to witness the beauty of such galaxies from the comfort of their own homes.
Image credit:X-ray: NASA/CXC/UA/J.Irwin et al; Optical: NASA/STScI