Milky Way

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The latest star map from the Gaia spacecraft plots 1.7 billion stars (Lisa Grossman, Science News)

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  • Milky Way Lost & Found (8/15/2018) - Have you seen the Milky Way? You may think that you have, but are you sure? Unless you live in an extremely remote area, or you’ve visited one, then you probably haven’t seen our own galaxy, the Milky Way, very well, or at all. Worse yet, you may not even realize that it’s missing. The … Continue reading Milky Way Lost & Found

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Milky Way : the galaxy of which the sun and the solar system are a part and which contains the myriads of stars that create the light of the Milky Way — Webster

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Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System. The descriptor “milky” is derived from the galaxy’s appearance from Earth: a band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. From Earth, the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies.

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years (ly). It is estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars. There are probably at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way. The Solar System is located within the disk, 26,490 (± 100) light-years from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of the Orion Arm, one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust. The stars in the innermost 10,000 light-years form a bulge and one or more bars that radiate from the bulge. The galactic center is an intense radio source known as Sagittarius A*, likely a supermassive black hole of 4.100 (± 0.034) million solar masses.

Stars and gases at a wide range of distances from the Galactic Center orbit at approximately 220 kilometers per second. The constant rotation speed contradicts the laws of Keplerian dynamics and suggests that much of the mass of the Milky Way does not emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation. This mass has been termed “dark matter”. The rotational period is about 240 million years at the position of the Sun. The Milky Way as a whole is moving at a velocity of approximately 600 km per second with respect to extragalactic frames of reference. The oldest stars in the Milky Way are nearly as old as the Universe itself and thus probably formed shortly after the Dark Ages of the Big Bang.

The Milky Way has several satellite galaxies and is part of the Local Group of galaxies, which form part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is itself a component of the Laniakea Supercluster. — Wikipedia

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Note: This is a 360° Video — press and hold to explore it!

This 360-degree movie immerses viewers into a simulation of the center of our Galaxy. This visualization was enabled by data from Chandra and other telescopes and allows viewers to control their own exploration of this region. From the vantage point of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, Sgr A*, the viewer can see about 25 Wolf-Rayet stars (white, twinkling objects) as they continuously eject stellar winds (black to red to yellow color scale). These winds collide with each other, and then some of this material (yellow blobs) spirals towards Sgr A*. The movie shows two simulations, each of which start around 350 years in the past and span 500 years. The first simulation shows Sgr A* in a calm state, while the second contains a more violent Sgr A* that is expelling its own material, thereby turning off the accretion of clumped material (yellow blobs) that is so prominent in the first portion.



Our Galactic Core Has Thousands of Black Holes (Daniel Starkey, Geek.com)
New Study Suggests Tens of Thousands of Black Holes Exist in Milky Way’s Center (Jessica Guenzel, Columbia News)

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  • Image: Herschel's view of the galactic centre
    on September 24, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    An odd-shaped formation of gas and dust at the centre of the Milky Way, captured by the far-infrared cameras on board ESA's Herschel space observatory. The nearly continuous strip of dense and cold clumps of material forms an infinity symbol, or sideways 8, that is a few hundred light years across. In this image, the strip twists around an invisible axis running roughly from the top left to the bottom right. […]

  • Researchers study a neutral hydrogen supershell...
    on September 24, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    A duo of researchers from the Czech Republic has performed a study of the neutral hydrogen supershell known as GS242-03+37, a large structure in the Milky Way galaxy. The research, presented in a paper published September 11 on arXiv.org, provides insights into the nature of this supershell and into its interactions with surroundings. […]

  • Narrowing down the mass of the Milky Way
    on September 21, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Since the birth of modern astronomy, scientists have sought to determine the full extent of the Milky Way galaxy and learn more about its structure, formation and evolution. At present, astronomers estimate that it is 100,000 to 180,000 light-years in diameter and consists of 100 to 400 billion stars – though some estimates say there could be as many as 1 trillion. […]

  • First detection of matter falling into a black...
    on September 20, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    A UK team of astronomers report the first detection of matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light, located in the centre of the billion-light year distant galaxy PG1211+143. The team, led by Professor Ken Pounds of the University of Leicester, used data from the European Space Agency's X-ray observatory XMM-Newton to observe the black hole. Their results appear in a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. […]

  • Gaia detects a shake in the Milky Way
    on September 20, 2018 at 9:41 am

    A team led by researchers from the Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona (ICCUB, UB-IEEC) and the University of Groningen has found, through the analysis of Gaia data, substructures in the Milky Way that were previously unknown. The findings, which appeared when combining positions and speed of 6 million stars from the galactic disk, have been published in the journal Nature. […]