M87 is one of the biggest galaxies in the nearby universe and weighs as much as six trillion Suns with two massive black holes at its center.
Scientists theorize that the star cluster may have wandered too close and was flung like a slingshot at tremendous speed. This is the first runaway star cluster astronomers have found, but they believe its fate is to drift through the void between galaxies until the end of time.
Using the MMT Telescope in Arizona, hundreds of clusters have been examined in detail, with a computer calculating the speed of each one. Any oddities were examined by hand, and most turned out to be errors. But HVGC-1 was different and its surprisingly high velocity was real.
They say the cluster may have already left M87 and be sailing out into intergalactic space. But if so, why alert us about the threat hurtling toward Earth? How can we be sure the stars will miss our planet?
I'm particularly interested in the subject because I've co-written four novels (seen on the sidebar) set on Earth after the Great Flood. The characters don't really know what happened. Only memories remain of stars falling from the sky in the Before Times. One novel remains unpublished—a first draft, set in 2027 at the time when everything went crazy. Gulp! I hope my warped mind got that scenario wrong.
The fascinating hand of God picture was taken by NASA in January. Scientists said it was a nebula (a cloud of gas) around a neutron star.
Who knows how long Earth will exist in its present form, or when a random chunk of hurtling rock will hit? Perhaps mankind will have worked out some prevention method in the future.
Which brings up the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe?