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Quarter-million-light-year long threads in an active galaxy have astronomers… engaged

10 Jun 2020, 13:00 UTC
Quarter-million-light-year long threads in an active galaxy have astronomers… engaged Rhodes University / INAF / SARAO

In the premier episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint", the Enterprise has to solve a mystery at a distant planet — which turns out to be (spoilers!) that the inhabitants of the planet have been holding a huge space-faring jellyfish-like creature captive. At the end of the episode, after Picard and crew save it, the creature flies up into space, meeting its mate in orbit, and they entwine long tentacles as they (presumably joyfully) reunite.

This episode premiered in 1987. Why bring it up now?

Because maybe Captain Picard should've checked the historical records. If he had found old 21st century observations of the galaxy ESO 137-006, the mystery would've been solved a lot faster. But then, a different mystery would've taken its place.

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