Posts tagged milky way
Astronomers have cataloged 84 million stars at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy using an enormous cosmic photo snapped by a telescope in Chile, a view that is billed as the largest survey ever of the stars in our galaxy’s core.
The staggering 9-gigapixel picture was created with data gathered by the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), an instrument at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. The zoomable image is so large that it would measure 30 feet long by 23 feet tall (9 by 7 meters) if printed with the resolution of a typical book, researchers said.
The huge new picture probes the Milky Way’s central bulge, a concentration of ancient stars found near the core of most spiral galaxies. Getting good looks at this region is not an easy task.
“Observations of the bulge of the Milky Way are very hard because it is obscured by dust,” said co-author Dante Minniti, also of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. “To peer into the heart of the galaxy, we need to observe in infrared light, which is less affected by the dust.”
This name derives from its appearance as a dim “milky” glowing band arching across the night sky, in which the naked eye cannot distinguish individual stars.
It’s possible that most people on Earth have never seen the Milky Way, the galaxy in which we live. The Milky Way used to be a part of every human’s life experience, but now that the majority of mankind lives in cities, with their light pollution, the Milky Way is rarely seen.
Our Milky Way galaxy is at its best for the next couple of weeks, but most of you will need to make a special effort to see it. It will probably require a drive of an hour or more to reach a dark enough location, where the Milky Way will be visible. Then it will require another 20 minutes for your eyes to become adjusted to the dark.
Four billion years from now, the Milky Way galaxy as we know it will cease to exist.
Our Milky Way is bound for a head-on collision with the similar-sized Andromeda galaxy, researchers announced today (May 31). Over time, the huge galactic smashup will create an entirely new hybrid galaxy, one likely bearing an elliptical shape rather than the Milky Way’s trademark spiral-armed disk.
The Milky Way may be teeming with more than 100,000 free-flying planets, worlds that unlike our orderly solar system are not orbiting parent stars.
This is the finding from a study that extrapolates from observations of a dozen so-called “nomad” planets, which were detected when their gravity briefly contorted light of passing stars — a phenomenon known as gravitational microlensing,