Oops! Huge Distant Galaxy Actually Small and Close

Religion / Science

Determining an accurate distance to extra-galactic objects is not easy at all. The further away something is the greater the inherent fudging that goes on in guesstimating the distance.

So this news today isn’t surprising:

“Astronomers are rubbing their eyes after discovering that a galaxy assumed to have been a giant for the past 23 years is in fact a dwarf, according to new observations.

NGC 5011C, a galaxy in the vicinity of the Milky Way is located towards the Centaurus constellation, one of the largest constellations of the southern hemisphere. Because of its low density of stars and absence of other features, astronomers would normally classify such a galaxy as a dwarf elliptical—a small faint galaxy with little gas and dust that mainly consists of old stars.”

I’m certain this isn’t the only mis-characterized galaxy out there. While this change doesn’t effect the various understandings of galactic formation in any way, it does remind us of the tenuousness of much of the data upon which the models are constructed. (And that they might be disproved and a new model put in place at any time.)

Which is a large part of the reason that I’ve always been reluctant to aggressively attempt to reconcile the world-views of science and religion. Remember the salutary example of Bishop Joseph Butler. Any attempt to reconcile the two world-views is going to have to be done at the level of hermeneutic if it’s going to be able to be broadly useful.

Read the rest here: SPACE.com — Oops! Huge Distant Galaxy Actually Small and Close

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Paul Martin says

    Sorry, but I don’t remember the salutary example of Bishop Joseph Butler. Care to offer up a salutary link? (If I’m going to learn my new word for the day, I might as well use it.)

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Butler
    I didn’t mean to by cryptic. In a nutshell Butler’s magnum-opus which tried to prove the scientific reasonableness of Christinanity was too closely wedded to the science of his day. While it was a tour-de-force in his lifetime, it soon was relegated to a mere curiosity because science moved on.
    My point is that anyone who attempts to hitch their religious beliefs to science in a naive way needs to remember that they’ve connected themselves with a moving target… and they may get taken to places that they haven’t anticipated.

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