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No. 12: Fall 1980

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Little big bangs!

The photographic enhancement of plates taken by the UK Schmidt and Anglo-Australian telescopes has revealed that several normal elliptical galaxies are surrounded by shell-like structures. D.F. Malin and D. Carter report that these envelopes are vast -- up to 180 kiloparsecs in diameter. Furthermore, some galaxies are wrapped in a series of thin shells. Malin and Carter believe that the colossal shells are really thin layers of stars either created by a powerful shock wave during galaxy formation or comprised of a debris layer of old stars blown out of the galaxy during some cataclysmic event.

(Malin, David F., and Carter, David; "Giant Shells around Normal Elliptical Galaxies," Nature, 285:643, 1980.)

Comment. This article typifies the emergence of "catastrophic astronomy" which contrasts sharply with the older vision of a leisurely evolution of stars and galaxies.

Elliptical galaxy surrounded by shell-like structures

From Science Frontiers #12, Fall 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987