In 1999 astronomers focusing on a star at the center of the Milky Way, measured precisely how long it takes the sun to complete one orbit (a galactic year) of our home galaxy: 226 million years, bobbing our fraught journey through the disc of the Milky Way, drifting through ghostly spiral arms and the darkness of dense nebulae, keeping a constant 30,000 light years between Earth and the violent galactic core. The last time the sun was at that exact spot of its galactic orbit, Tyrannosaurus rex ruled the Earth.
An enormous ‘ghost’ galaxy, believed to be one of the oldest in the universe, was detected lurking on the outskirts of the Milky Way in November of 2018 by a team of astronomers who discovered the massive object when trawling through new data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite. The object, named Antlia 2 , avoided detection thanks to its extremely low density as well as a perfect hiding place in the Zone of Avoidance, named by Edwin Hubble in 1929, behind the shroud of the Milky Way’s disc–a region full of dust and an overabundance of bright stars near the galactic center.
“It was shocking to realize that the Milky Way had a large sibling, and we never knew about it,” said Eric Bell, University of Michigan professor of astronomy in 2018 about his discovery that the Andromeda galaxy (also named M31), our closest large galactic neighbor, shredded and cannibalized a massive galaxy two billion years ago.
This weekend’s stories include JWST’s Data Is So Incredible That Even Those Who Built It Are Questioning Previous Science to to Do fundamental laws of nature apply to all objects, at all times and in all locations, all across the Universe? and much more.
A map created in 2021 revealed the extremely violent center of our Milky Way Galaxy. New research and images by University of Massachusetts Amherst astronomer Daniel Wang reveals, with unprecedented clarity, an X-ray thread, G0.17-0.41, which hints at a previously unknown interstellar mechanism that may govern the energy flow and potentially the evolution of the Milky Way.
Today’s stories include the Webb Has Snapped an Almost Perfect Einstein Ring to a Black Hole Discovery Reveals Quantum Nature of the Cosmos, and much more.