Author Topic: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected  (Read 10724 times)

Offline brokeplex

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Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« on: March 13, 2015, 11:46:15 am »
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/12/milky-way-size-bigger_n_6849548.html   

David Freeman
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The Milky Way May Be More Enormous Than We Ever Imagined
 

 Posted:  03/12/2015 12:25 pm EDT    Updated:  03/12/2015 3:59 pm EDT   
 
How big is the Milky Way? Way bigger than we thought, it seems.

Surprising new research suggests that our home galaxy is about 50 percent bigger than previously thought, spanning some 150,000 light-years across rather than the 100,000 light-years that has been the generally accepted number.

We know quite a lot about the Milky Way, so how can it be that we're just now realizing that we were so wrong about its size? It turns out that what seemed to be concentric rings of stars surrounding our galaxy's bulging center are instead concentric ripples--and that means the galaxy doesn't end where we thought it did.

"If there are ripples, then it looks like the number of stars in the (presumed flat) disk drops off quickly, and then farther out where the disk ripples back up it looks like a detached ring of stars appears," Dr. Heidi Newberg, professor of physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic University in Troy, NY, told The Huffington Post in an email. "We now understand that the galaxy didn't end; the disk is just going up and down--in and out of our view."

"In essence, what we found is that the disk of the Milky Way isn't just a disk of stars in a flat plane--it's corrugated," Newberg, the leader of the international team of scientists who conducted the research, said in a written statement, adding that the corrugations seemed consistent with previous theoretical research suggesting that a dwarf galaxy or dark matter passing through the Milky Way would produce galactic rippling.

The new research--published March 11 in The Astrophysical Journal--was based on a careful analysis of data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a collection of astronomical observations made by the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, N.M. The survey has created the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, according to its website.

What do other astronomers make of the finding?

In an email to The Huffington Post, Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., called it "exciting" and offered his own interpretation:


"Our sun has been thought to be about two-thirds of the way out in our Milky Way Galaxy. Now we learn that we are really halfway out. Our galaxy extends further out than we had realized. If you think of our galaxy as a 9-inch dinner plate with us two-thirds of the way out, unable to see far through the plate's disk, we now learn that the plate was really 12 inches across."

Eat it up, astronomy buffs!

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2015, 12:07:39 pm »
I wanted to take Astronomy in college, but the course wasn't offered every semester, and when it was offered, it conflicted with something I needed to take for my degree requirements..  :(

(It was a small college, with a small Physics and Earth Science department; that was the department that offered the Astronomy course.)
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2015, 02:04:35 pm »
Fascinating article. Thank you, brokeplex! For armchair astonomers, the movie The Theory of Everything is enjoyable.

During my European trip last fall, I had the opportunity to stay at not one but two famous observatories, the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat (pictured), near the Matterhorn. It was an eye-opening experience, indeed!
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline brokeplex

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2015, 04:57:26 pm »
I wanted to take Astronomy in college, but the course wasn't offered every semester, and when it was offered, it conflicted with something I needed to take for my degree requirements..  :(

(It was a small college, with a small Physics and Earth Science department; that was the department that offered the Astronomy course.)
I was fortunate to be encouraged as a young boy to enjoy amateur astronomy. my parents bought me my first telescope when I was in the 3rd grade. I grew up in a small town outside of Houston, away from the city lights - so I did a lot of telescope viewing as a child. got several merit badges for astronomy, and numerous chest colds standing out in the damp air.  :laugh:


Offline brokeplex

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2015, 04:59:20 pm »
Fascinating article. Thank you, brokeplex! For armchair astonomers, the movie The Theory of Everything is enjoyable.

During my European trip last fall, I had the opportunity to stay at not one but two famous observatories, the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat (pictured), near the Matterhorn. It was an eye-opening experience, indeed!


Matterhorn is a lovely spot, breathtaking, similar to the area where Brokeback Mtn was filmed. I spent some time in Switz my first year of college, which was in Europe. ( I should go back, lets plan a tour!)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2015, 07:26:19 pm »
I was fortunate to be encouraged as a young boy to enjoy amateur astronomy. my parents bought me my first telescope when I was in the 3rd grade. I grew up in a small town outside of Houston, away from the city lights - so I did a lot of telescope viewing as a child. got several merit badges for astronomy, and numerous chest colds standing out in the damp air.  :laugh:

That must have been cool. My parents had friends who had a telescope, and I was taken there once to look at the moon, I believe. But the friends were not kid-friendly (they had no children of their own), and that once was the only time.

Brokeplex, did you ever see any UFOs, or at least anything you couldn't identify, when you were star gazing as a kid?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline brokeplex

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 04:21:49 pm »
That must have been cool. My parents had friends who had a telescope, and I was taken there once to look at the moon, I believe. But the friends were not kid-friendly (they had no children of their own), and that once was the only time.

Brokeplex, did you ever see any UFOs, or at least anything you couldn't identify, when you were star gazing as a kid?
yes, looking back my parents were the very best! yes I have seen several UFO's in the area, there is in fact a documented case of our local county sheriff sighting a UFO in the area in which I would later star and planet gaze.

http://roswellbooks.com/museum/?page_id=687


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Our Galaxy May Be Much Larger Than Expected
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2015, 07:53:24 pm »
yes, looking back my parents were the very best! yes I have seen several UFO's in the area, there is in fact a documented case of our local county sheriff sighting a UFO in the area in which I would later star and planet gaze.

http://roswellbooks.com/museum/?page_id=687



Very cool! I will have to check out the link some time.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.