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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Science

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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  • Planetary nebulae in distant galaxies
    on July 23, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Using data from the MUSE instrument, researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) succeeded in detecting extremely faint planetary nebulae in distant galaxies. The method used, a filter algorithm in image data processing, opens up new possibilities for cosmic distance measurement—and thus also for determining the Hubble constant.

  • GLOSTAR: Tracing atomic and molecular gas in the...
    on July 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    By combining two of the most powerful radio telescopes on Earth, an international team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, created the most sensitive maps of the radio emission of large parts of the Northern Galactic plane so far. The data were taken with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico in two different configurations and the 100-m Effelsberg telescope near Bonn. This provides for the first time a radio survey covering all […]

  • A large tidal stream observed in the Sombrero...
    on July 21, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    According to the latest cosmological models, large spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way grew by absorbing smaller galaxies, by a sort of galactic cannibalism. Evidence for this is given by very large structures, the tidal stellar streams, which are observed around them, which are the remains of these satellite galaxies. But the full histories of the majority of these cases are hard to study, because these flows of stars are very faint, and only the remains of the most recent mergers have been […]

  • Supermassive black holes put a brake on stellar...
    on July 20, 2021 at 7:23 am

    Black holes with masses equivalent to millions of suns do put a brake on the birth of new stars, say astronomers. Using machine learning and three state of the art simulations to back up results from a large sky survey, the researchers resolve a 20-year long debate on the formation of stars. Joanna Piotrowska, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, will present the new work today at the virtual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2021).

  • Galactic gamma ray bursts predicted last year...
    on July 13, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Magnetars are bizarre objects—massive, spinning neutron stars with magnetic fields among the most powerful known, capable of shooting off brief bursts of radio waves so bright they're visible across the universe.