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  • Milky Way's nearest neighbour revealed

    Milky Way's nearest neighbour revealed



    The nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way has been revealed. It is so close that the Milky Way is gradually consuming it by pulling in its stars. But it will be few billion years before it is entirely swallowed up.



    The previously unknown galaxy lies about 25,000 light years from Earth and 42,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way, beyond the stars in the constellation Canis Major. It is twice as close to the centre of our galaxy than the previous record holder, the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, which was discovered in 1994.



    Geraint Lewis, at the University of Sydney, Australia, was one of the international team that uncovered the galaxy. "It is an important discovery because it highlights that the Milky Way is not in its middle age - it is still forming."



    The Canis Major dwarf galaxy had previously escaped detection because it is hidden behind dense clouds of dust. However, an international team of astronomers found it using infrared data from the recent 2 Micron All Sky Survey. (Graphics and animations of the Canis Major dwarf galaxy can be viewed here here.)



    Raining down



    Infrared's ability to "see" straight through the dusty regions of the Milky Way proved invaluable. The team were looking for a rare type of old red star but found many more than they had expected.



    Another team member, Mike Irwin at the University of Cambridge, UK, told New Scientist: "We found a large excess of these stars just below the plane of the Milky Way, spread into an elongated shape covering about 10 times the apparent size of the full Moon."



    Coming from this main body, the astronomers also found trails of stars. Some of these are falling into the Milky Way and may even be passing through our own celestial neighbourhood. "In computer models we have run, some stars do seem to rain down close to the Solar System," says Irwin.



    Which stars these are, if any, may remain unknown until next decade when the ESA spacecraft Gaia should launch. Gaia will measure stellar orbits to suggest which stars in the night sky have been cannibalised from this and other dwarf galaxies.



    As for the discovery of more dwarf galaxies, Irwin is cautious: "Instrumentation is now so good that there are not too many hiding places left for dwarf galaxies. There may be a few more yet to be discovered, but not many."



    A paper on the discovery of the new galaxy will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.



    SOURCE.

  • #2
    Great article Matthew



    Hopefully I've got a representation of that, if I can work it out



    And as this is a sort of Astronomy post I thought I'd tell you about the latest X Class flare from the sun. It has been nominally given an X17.4 number, which is BIG. Luckily it was not earth directed although it affected radio transmission across North America. Some scientists however suspect that it might have actually reached X50!!! I've no idea how that would have affected the earth if it had been directed and quite frankly, I don't want to know



    Misty
    "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi

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    • #3
      Some scientists however suspect that it might have actually reached X50!!! I've no idea how that would have affected the earth if it had been directed and quite frankly, I don't want to know



      Absolutely nothing to worry about. Its only because they've recently launched a series of satellites that they can actually detect these in the first place. The earth's magnetic field is more than capable of deflecting these flares.



      Rockbank(doing his best to act as the mocking scientist in those old sci-fi flicks where the scientist usually ends up getting wiped out by whatever it was that he said would not be a problem)
      Now, these creatures are bringers of death and misery. They will never eat, they will never sleep, and they will never stop.



      We are part of an ancient secret society. For three thousand years we have guarded the Cities and Towns. We are sworn at manhood to do any and all in our power to stop the NFH from ever being reborn into this world.




      So what's the plan?



      Rescue the damsel in distress, stop the bad guys, save the world.

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      • #4
        I heard on the TV that this could result in the northern lights being visible in this country, haven't heard whether that actually happened - would have been a wonderful thing to see. Anybody know?

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        • #5
          There were hopes of that Eskander but I think they were still only visible in Scotland.



          Sweden had a blackout last week which they blamed on the geomagnetic storm and Japan lost two satellites. But I'm reliably informed the X50 flare, even if it's accompanied by a Coronal Mass Ejection will only give the earth a glancing blow.



          Good article on BBC website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3238961.stm



          Misty
          "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi

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