Much Longer Than Six Thousand Years Ago, in Galaxies Far Far Away

As the PS thread on Giant ‘Baby’ Galaxies included discussion on the long intervals required to develop some cosmic structures, I thought this report from last year relevant.

The galactic monster is an especially large example of a radio galaxy, or a galaxy with a supermassive at the center which gobbles up enormous amounts of matter before spitting it out — sending gigantic two jets of plasma moving at close to the speed of light. After traveling millions of light-years, the plasma beams slow, spreading out into plumes that emit light in the form of radio waves. In the case of Alcyoneus, its lobes are the largest ever discovered.

Astronomers just found the largest galaxy ever discovered

Source paper:
The discovery of a radio galaxy of at least 5 Mpc

Distance: 3.5 Billion Light Years

Even at relativistic speeds, the distance traversed by the lobe jets involves travel time of millions of years.

Please feel free to add any favorite “cosmic structures that take time to form” examples to this thread.


I can’t prove it in some ultimate sense, but this does kinda look to me like the elliptical galaxy is drawing the stars, gas, and dust of the spiral galaxy above it towards itself

And I still can’t prove this either, but it kinda looks like similar things are going on here:

These could have fooled me too:

And why anyone would think these stretched arms and trails of stars has anything to do with gravity is an enduring mystery:


Besides those I would posit basically any picture of gravitational lensing by a cluster of galaxies show what looks like something that would have to occur on million year timescales. The light leaving a galaxy far behind a large cluster would have to travel around it and get lensed by the gravitational effect of that cluster of galaxy in order for us to see the gravitationally lensed (bent, stretched and magnified) light from it.

Galactic jets millions of light years long.

Even at near the speed of light it would take millions of years for the matter to reach those distances.


Yes, these galaxies, with very different histories, are falling into each other.

ARP 142 - The Penguin and the Egg

Distance: 23 Million Light Years

NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute

This dramatic pairing shows two galaxies that couldn’t look more different as their mutual gravitational attraction slowly drags them closer together.

The “penguin” part of the pair, NGC 2936, was probably once a relatively normal-looking spiral galaxy, flattened like a pancake with smoothly symmetric spiral arms. Rich with newly-formed hot stars, seen in visible light from Hubble as bluish filaments, its shape has now been twisted and distorted as it responds to the gravitational tugs of its neighbor. Strands of gas mixed with dust stand out as red filaments detected at longer wavelengths of infrared light seen by Spitzer.

The “egg” of the pair, NGC 2937, by contrast, is nearly featureless. The distinctly different greenish glow of starlight tells the story of a population of much older stars. The absence of glowing red dust features informs us that it has long since lost its reservoir of gas and dust from which new stars can form. While this galaxy is certainly reacting to the presence of its neighbor, its smooth distribution of stars obscures any obvious distortions of its shape.


Easy. God just sped up the rest of the universe so that all this galactic evolution took place in only one Earth-day, so that later He could write that He did it in one day, because… because… well, God works in mysterious ways :man_shrugging:


An excellent idea.
One former YEC who has really impressed me is David MacMillan who became fascinated by astronomy. The persuasive power of that field eventually flipped him, and one important picture was this one:

It shows a distant galaxy, moving fast, leaving behind a trail of hot gas 280,000 light years in length.
His story is here: Path Across the Stars. Everything I gained when I left science… | by David MacMillan | The Startup | Medium and it includes other images of moving structures far older than the 6000 year universe. I’d encourage everyone to look it over as it is both quite moving, and it gives considerable insight into YEC thinking.


Your second example of the nearly merged Antennae Galaxies, is also studiously ignored by YEC.

Distance from earth: 45 million light years.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

Spanning about 500 thousand light-years, this stunning composited view also reveals new star clusters and matter flung far from the scene of the accident by gravitational tidal forces.

NASA Hubblesite: The Antennae Galaxies/NGC 4038-4039

These “tidal tails” were formed during the initial encounter of the galaxies some 200 to 300 million years ago.

Closer view of the galactic cores and overlap here

Also, this Viewspace Antennae Galaxies site nicely allows clicking though views seen at different wavelengths.

The Antennae Galaxies are a go to for astronomical studies of star formation, as the overlap region where gas clouds from the two galaxies encounter each other at high velocity, is full of Super Star Clusters, for example:

The formation of the young massive cluster B1 in the Antennae galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039) triggered by cloud-cloud collision

It is likely that SSC B1 was formed from molecular gas of ∼107 M⊙ with a star formation
efficiency of ∼10 % in 1 Myr.

Tracing the sites of obscured star formation in the Antennae galaxies with Herschel-PACS

Star formation histories within the Antennae galaxies (Arp 244)

So what the data presents is a process of gravitational interaction lasting hundreds of millions of years, has brought about starburst over tens of millions of years, which we are seeing from earth after light has traveled 45 million years. All of this fits fine with scientific timescales, but as Andrew suggests, precipitate more “mysterious ways” explanations from YEC. Except in this case they mostly prefer to just not draw attention.


Tadpole galaxies are an informal classification, but this is the Tadpole Galaxy.

Distance from Earth: 420 Million Light Years

The Tadpole Galaxy: Distorted Victim of Cosmic Collision

Strong gravitational forces from the interaction created the long tail of debris, consisting of stars and gas that stretch out more than 280,000 light-years.

Numerous young blue stars and star clusters, spawned by the galaxy collision, are seen in the spiral arms, as well as in the long “tidal” tail of stars. Each of these clusters represents the formation of up to about a million stars. Their color is blue because they contain very massive stars, which are 10 times hotter and 1 million times brighter than our Sun. Once formed, the star clusters become redder with age as the most massive and bluest stars exhaust their fuel and burn out. These clusters will eventually become old globular clusters similar to those found in essentially all halos of galaxies, including our own Milky Way.

Velocities involved in galactic interactions may be fast in everyday terms, but are nowhere near the speed of light. A tail of 280,000 light years would be several million years in the making. This is another galaxy that gets the silent treatment from YEC; a search of the archives of AiG and other YEC sites come up blank. A picture is worth a thousand words.