LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Perhaps it’s illogical, but a composite image of two galaxy clusters colliding billions of light years away strongly resembles the shape of the Starship Enterprise, the iconic spaceship from the “Star Trek” franchise.
NASA says its Chandra X-ray Observatory – which combines X-rays with other types of light, such as radio waves – captured the images of the galaxy clusters in the process of colliding, an energetic event producing turbulence and shock waves similar to sonic booms produced by a plane moving faster than the speed of sound.
The composite image combines X-rays from Chandra, radio emissions from the Low-Frequency Array, or LOFAR, network in the Netherlands, and optical emissions from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
NASA says Abell 1033 is not the only energetic cosmic process captured by the composite image. Scientists say jets of high-speed particles spiraling into a supermassive black hole were also revealed by radio emission to the left and right sides of the image.
The strong resemblance of Abell 1033 to the Starship Enterprise is not really an accident. NASA says it’s an example of pareidolia, a psychological phenomenon where familiar shapes and patterns are detected in otherwise random data.