Galactic Shells

By Harley White posted 06-10-2022 06:22


Image Credit: CFHT, Coelum, MegaCam, J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT) & G. A. Anselmi (Coelum)

Galactic Shells
Oh beautiful are starry leas
that grace the vast expanse
where seen upon the skyey seas
through telescopic glance
a chambered nautilus aloft
or so its semblance seems
by brushstroke watercolored soft
in allegoric dreams
is painted as with haloed hues
of delicate pastels
urged on by great galactic muse
‘midst layered pearly shells.
A hundred million light-years far
from Earth, in Pisces group,
where we revolve around Sun star
and dwell amongst our troupe,
this interacting duo lies
elliptical the one,
while other into spiral guise
its starry realms has spun.
NGC Four Seventy-four
and Four Seven O, too,
make up the pair we here explore
in versified review.
The former with its tidal tails
which might be some debris
stretched out in interstellar trails
from coalescing spree
is coupled in the stunning scene
with galaxy nearby
both daubed upon celestial screen
of stippled starry sky.
Shell strata in the image shown
like ripples on a pond,
perhaps from hit afoot in zone,
spread into space beyond.
Four Seven Four, colossal, has
a spheric core from where
the wavelet shells in tints topaz
of sheer transparent air
could be to nautilus compared
whose toils would give one pause
as through the years its chambers flared
with ‘webs of living gauze’,
those grand poetic lines of Holmes,
some verses here to quote,
where he of ‘vaster-vaulted domes’
and ‘stately mansions’ wrote.
That system pearled in skies unfurled
enormous in its size
alongside a galactic world
that’s also giant size
reminds that we’re ‘frail tenants’ all
encased in mortal shell
playacting ‘dim dreamed lives’ in thrall
as earthly ways compel
to chambered nautilus akin
with beingness endowed
on this our tiny orb within
the universe’s crowd,
or multiverse as I suspect
at least much more abstruse
as is causation and effect
than mostly minds deduce.
Thoreau in his poetic prose
said, ‘time is but a stream
we drink of, as it onward flows
and while we drink we deem
‘how thin its current, for we eye
the sandy bed below
so shallow, as it’s gliding by
in ever onward flow.
‘And yet eternity remains
if we would deeper drink
than mere mentality constrains
in terms of how we think,’
to amply paraphrase the words
of passage from Thoreau
who credited the songs of birds
more rapture to bestow
with every mellisonant note
amongst our taxon’s herds
as Mother Nature’s antidote
for humankind’s absurds.
Yet though foolhardily we fuss,
adrift in death and birth,
still we cannot give up on us
our species here on Earth.
So when my thoughts take darker turn
and I fall into gloom
at what my senses may discern,
I might seek flower’s bloom
as more fulfilling to attend
or cooing of a dove
for remedy to spirits mend,
plus splendors up above
to lend perspective further than
unaided sight can span
or deeper search beyond my scan
for saving grace in Man.
Analogies are found where’er
the human gaze may peer
on land and ocean here and there
or in the cosmic sphere
like chambered nautilus on high
in poem Holmes composed,
as flights of fancy freely fly
to wonders undisclosed
whence one may leave the shell innate,
delusion’s bounded plane,
and reach a true enlightened state
to sail on boundless main…
~ Harley White
* * * * * * * *
Some sources of inspiration were the following…
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.”
~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): “Walden 2. Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”
Poem: “The Chambered Nautilus”, by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894)
Image and info ~ Galaxy NGC 474: Shells and Star Streams (APOD)…
Image and info ~ Galaxy NGC 474: Shells and Star Streams (NASA Science)…
Info ~ Hubble Captures Stunning Image of Giant Elliptical Galaxy…
Explanation: NGC 474 is the huge elliptical galaxy with the numerous tidal tails. NGC 470 is the spiral galaxy next to it, located at the same distance (~100 million light years). The multiple layers of emission of galaxy NGC 474, which has a diameter of 250,000 light-years— 2.5 times larger than our own Milky Way Galaxy, appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells is currently unknown, but possibly tidal tails are related to debris left over from absorption of numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. Alternatively the shells may be like ripples in a pond, where the ongoing collision with the spiral galaxy just above NGC 474 is causing density waves to ripple through the galactic giant. Regardless of the actual cause, the featured image dramatically highlights the increasing consensus that at least some elliptical galaxies have formed in the recent past, and that the outer halos of most large galaxies are not really smooth but have complexities induced by frequent interactions with— and accretions of— smaller nearby galaxies. The halo of our own Milky Way Galaxy is one example of such unexpected complexity. NGC 474 spans about 250,000 light years and lies about 100 million light-years distant toward the constellation of the Fish (Pisces).
Image Credit: CFHT, Coelum, MegaCam, J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT) & G. A. Anselmi (Coelum)