live:understanding

When I understand myself, I understand you, and out of that understanding comes love. Love is the missing factor; there is a lack of affection, of warmth in relationship; and because we lack that love, that tenderness, that generosity, that mercy in relationship, we escape into mass action which produces further confusion, further misery. We fill our hearts with blueprints for world reform and do not look to that one resolving factor; which is Love.
—  Jiddu Krishnamurti

Spiral galaxies, like the whirlpool galaxy above, are the most familiar type of galaxy, and probably the most beautiful. When viewed edge on they appear as flat disks with a central bulge of old, red stars. Observing spiral galaxies also gives us a glimpsed of what we may never see with our own eyes, the shape of our own galaxy.
Because the stars in and around the centre of the galaxy are known to move faster than those farther out, it was once thought by astronomers that, given enough time, the spiral arms would coil tighter as the galaxy rotated. This is actually a pretty simple idea that you can probably just imagine in your head. This idea, however, later proved to be somewhat wrong. Astronomers no know that the spiral arms make out regions of high relative density. The arms do rotate around the galactic core, but at a much slower rate than the stars, gas and dust they contain. So when clouds of gas and dust drift into such a region of high density, the clouds become compressed and stars begin to form and the arms become conspicuous.
There is still much mystery surrounding spiral galaxies. Astronomers still don’t fully understand how they form their spiral shape, or what causes the linear features that span the nuclei of barred spirals.

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