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Astronomers use Gaia data to model Milky Way-Andromeda collision

Astronomers use Gaia data to model Milky Way-Andromeda collision

Science
Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists have long suspected that the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are on a collision course, but now, thanks to new data from the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, researchers finally know how fast and at what angles the two galactic bodies are approaching impact. The Milky Way and Andromeda, along with the smaller Triangulum, are the three biggest galaxies in the Local Group, a collection of more than 54 galaxies -- most of them dwarf galaxies. While scientists think all 54 members are organized by their gravitational influence on one another, the positioning and trajectories of Local Group members isn't well understood. "We needed to explore the galaxies' motions in 3D to uncover how they have grown and evolved, and what creates and influences their features...
Our Milky Way galaxy is truly warped, at least around edges

Our Milky Way galaxy is truly warped, at least around edges

Technology
It turns out our Milky Way galaxy is truly warped, at least around the far edges. Scientists in China and Australia released an updated 3D map of the Milky Way on Tuesday. They used 1,339 pulsating stars — young, newly catalogued stars bigger and brighter than our sun — to map the galaxy's shape. The farther from the center, the more warping, or twisting, there is in the Milky Way's outer hydrogen gas disc. Researchers say the warped, spiral pattern is likely caused by the spinning force of the massive inner disc of stars. "We usually think of spiral galaxies as being quite flat, like Andromeda, which you can easily see through a telescope," Macquarie University's Richard de Grijs, who took part in the study, said in a statement from Sydney. Lead researcher Xiaodian Chen of t...
Galactic collision could wake up Milky Way black hole

Galactic collision could wake up Milky Way black hole

Technology
New research has predicted that a galactic collision could wake the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way and cause it to swell ten times over and devour all surrounding matter. Astrophysicists at Durham University have predicted that the collision between the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and our own galaxy could occur much sooner than the expected crash between us and neighbouring galaxy Andromeda.This "catastrophic" collision could occur in two billion years' time - much sooner than the expected eight billion years until we smash into Andromeda.This is because recent research has discovered that the LMC contains far more dark matter than previously thought - meaning it is losing energy and dooming it to crash into our galaxy. The findings are published in the jour...
Two Milky Way satellite galaxies collide

Two Milky Way satellite galaxies collide

Science
Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Two Milky Way satellite galaxies, Small Magellanic Cloud and the Large Magellanic Cloud, collided a few millions years ago, according to a new study by University of Michigan astronomers. Using new images collected by a powerful, orbiting telescope, University of Michigan astronomers noticed the southeast region, or "wing," of the Small Magellanic Cloud breaking off from its dwarf galaxy. Sally Oey, University of Michigan professor of astronomy, and undergraduate researcher Johnny Dorigo Jones worked with an international team of researchers to examine chunks of stars called "runaways" that had been ejected within SMC. This data came from Gaia, an orbiting telescope launched by the European Space Agency. "It's really interesting that Gaia obtained the proper motions of th...
Gravitation lens yields most precise test of general relativity yet outside our Milky Way

Gravitation lens yields most precise test of general relativity yet outside our Milky Way

Science
June 21 (UPI) -- The theory of general relativity states that objects and their gravitational pull distort the spacetime around them. The phenomenon explains the gravitational lens effect, the bending of light in a lens-like shape around large galaxies and cosmic structures. Recently, astronomers successfully measured the gravitation lensing effect around the elliptical galaxy ESO 325-G004, located 450 million light-years from Earth. The test proved with record-precision the general relativity. Astronomers used the MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope to analyze the movement of stars within ESO 325-G004 to estimate the galaxy's mass. Astronomers than used high-definition images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the lensing ring around the galaxy. Their measurement...