The center of the Milky Way is a mysterious place. Astronomers think there’s a supermassive black hole there, though it could be dark matter instead. The region is densely packed with stars, dominated by red giants. And because of all the dust between Earth and the galactic center, we can’t see anything with visible light, ultraviolet light, or low-energy x-rays.
But we can detect radio waves, and there are some unexplained ones coming from the center of the galaxy, and adding to the mystery.
Continue reading “What’s Causing the Mysterious Radio Waves Coming From the Center of the Milky Way?”
What if our eyes could see radio waves?
If we could, we might be able to look up into the sky and see a tunnel of rope-like filaments made of radio waves. The structure would be about 1,000 light-years long and would be about 350 light-years away.
This tunnel explains two of the brightest radio features in the sky.
Continue reading “A Magnetic Tunnel Surrounds the Earth”
Gas from the intergalactic medium constantly rains down on galaxies, fueling continued star formation. New research has shown that this gas is not evenly mixed, and stars are not equal across the galaxy. This result means that solar systems are not the same within the Milky Way.
Continue reading “The Milky Way Hasn’t Been Evenly Mixed”
Using a new observatory, a team of Chinese astronomers have found over a dozen sources of ultra-high energy cosmic rays. And those sources aren’t from some distant, exotic corner of the cosmos. They come from our own backyard.
Continue reading “Astronomers Have Tracked Down the Source of High Energy Cosmic Rays to Regions Within the Milky Way Itself”
The core of the Milky Way Galaxy (aka. Galactic Center), the region around which the rest of the galaxy revolves, is a strange and mysterious place. It is here that the Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) that powers the compact radio source known as Sagittarius A* is located. It is also the most compact region in the galaxy, with an estimated 10 million stars within 3.26 light-years of the Galactic Center.
Using data from Chandra X-ray Observatory and the MeerKAT radio telescope, NASA and the National Research Foundation (NSF) of South Africa created a mosaic of the center of the Milky Way. Combining images taken in the x-ray and radio wavelengths, the resulting panoramic image manages to capture the filaments of super-heated gas and magnetic fields that (when visualized) shows the complex web of energy at the center of our galaxy.
Continue reading “New Mosaic Shows the Galactic Core From Opposite Sides of the Electromagnetic Spectrum”
Would it be surprising to find a rocky planet that dates back to the very early Universe? It should be. The early Universe lacked the heavier elements necessary to form rocky planets.
But astronomers have found one, right here in the Milky Way.
Continue reading “One of the Oldest Stars in the Galaxy has a Planet. Rocky Planets Were Forming at Nearly the Beginning of the Universe”
Spiral galaxies are one of the most commonly known types of galaxy. Most people think of them as large round disks, and know that our Milky Way is counted among their number. What most people don’t realize is that many spiral galaxies have a type of warping effect that, when you look at them edge on, can make it seem like they are forming a wave. Now scientists, led by Xinlun Chen at the University of Virginia, have studied millions of stars in the Milky Way and begun to develop a picture of a “wave” passing through our own galaxy.
Continue reading “You Can Actually See the Milky Way’s Wave When You Map Its Stars”
Within our galaxy, there are thousands of stars that orbit the center of the Milky Way at high velocities. On occasion, some of them pick up so much speed that they break free of our galaxy and become intergalactic objects. Because of the extreme dynamical and astrophysical processes involved, astronomers are most interested in studying these stars – especially those that are able to achieve escape velocity and leave our galaxy.
However, an international team of astronomers led from the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) recently announced the discovery of 591 high-velocity stars. Based on data provided by the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST) and the ESA’s Gaia Observatory, they indicated that 43 of these stars are fast enough to escape the Milky Way someday.
Continue reading “Astronomers Discover Hundreds of High-Velocity Stars, Many on Their Way Out of the Milky Way”
Where are we? Cosmically, we’re in our home galaxy, typically known as the Milky Way. The center of our galaxy is marked by a supermassive black hole, which the Sun orbits at a distance of about 30,000 light-years. The official distance, set by the International Astronomical Union in 1985, is 27,700 light-years. But a new study as confirmed we are actually a bit closer to the black hole.
Continue reading “A new measurement puts the Sun 2,000 light-years closer to the center of the Milky Way”
Ten billion years ago the young Milky Way survived a titanic merger with a neighboring galaxy, eventually consuming the whole thing. Now, remnants of that fossil galaxy still swim in our galaxy’s core – and astronomers have discovered that almost a third of the Milky Way’s current population came from that dismantled rival.
Continue reading “A third of the stars in the Milky Way came from a single merger 10 billion years ago”