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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  • Halloween@NASA (10/31/2019) - The folks at NASA love Halloween, and they do something to celebrate every year. For example, the engineers at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab have been holding a pumpkin carving contest for almost a decade, and stories about their ingenuity invariably make it into the news. Here’s a video from Wired about their 2016 competition. Here’s … Continue reading Halloween@NASA
  • 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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General

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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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Encyclopedia

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

Encyclopædia Britannica

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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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The Milky Way (Ask an Astronomer, Cornell University)
Milky Way (Cosmos4Kids)

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  • CXOGBS J175553.2-281633 is a cataclysmic...
    on September 29, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    An international team of astronomers has performed photometric observations of a binary system known as CXOGBS J175553.2-281633. Results of the study indicate that the object is a cataclysmic variable system. The finding is reported in a paper published September 18 on arXiv.org.

  • Astronomers find the first galaxy whose...
    on September 28, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Using observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma, Canary Islands), and with the ATACAMA Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA), in Chile, astronomers have found the first galaxy whose ultraviolet luminosity is comparable to that of a quasar. The discovery was recently published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.

  • First candidate for an extragalactic planet...
    on September 25, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    A team of researchers from the U.S. and China has found the first evidence for a candidate planet in another galaxy. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server, the team describes their work studying the possible planet and what they have found so far.

  • New analysis of black hole reveals a wobbling...
    on September 23, 2020 at 1:31 pm

    In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration delivered the first image of a black hole, revealing M87*—the supermassive object in the center of the M87 galaxy. The team has now used the lessons learned last year to analyze the archival data sets from 2009-2013, some of them not published before.

  • Data sonification: Sounds from around the Milky...
    on September 22, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    The center of our Milky Way galaxy is too distant for us to visit in person, but we can still explore it. Telescopes give us a chance to see what the Galactic Center looks like in different types of light. By translating the inherently digital data (in the form of ones and zeroes) captured by telescopes in space into images, astronomers create visual representations that would otherwise be invisible to us.