Archive for July, 2011

The Milky Way is a galactic cannibal

Monday, 18 July 2011
by Estelle Asmodelle
galaxy (NGC1300) An image of a barred-spiral galaxy (NGC1300) where you can clearly see the bar structure in the thin disk of the galaxy (the line through the middle of the galaxy which the spiral arms start from). The Milky Way is thought to have a bar like this in its thin disk, as well as a similar shape in the thick disk as predicted by Dr Bekki’s simulation.Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA

PERTH: A merger between the infant Milky Way and a smaller galaxy has been detected with the help of a new theoretical model, providing evidence that our galaxy is a barred-spiral galaxy.

The new model simulates a merger between a smaller galaxy and the Milky Way some nine billion years ago and shed light on how the Milky Way was formed, reveals its history of devouring smaller galaxies and may strongly support a new model of the galaxy formation.

Threat of James Webb Space Telescope Cancellation

As NASA prepares to wrap up its shuttle program, leaving open questions about what comes next for U.S. human spaceflight, the next big thing in NASA’s astronomy program has been dealt a blow. The James Webb Space Telescope, a tennis court–size spacecraft that would take up a position in deep space to peer farther than ever into the cosmos, has been in development as a replacement for and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has already logged 21 years in orbit. But the House Appropriations Committee, in a bill announced July 6, proposed axing the project entirely this week, citing mismanagement and bad budgeting.

Neptune’s day measured to the second

by Estelle Asmodelle

NeptuneThe colours in this image were modified to emphasize the planet’s atmospheric features. Neptune’s Great Dark Spot stands out as the most prominent feature on the left. The two key features Karkoschka used can also be seen: the fainter Dark Spot 2 and the South Polar Feature, which are locked to the planet’s rotation.Credit: Erich Karkoschka

This finding adds to our knowledge of the fundamental properties of Neptune and also provides a mechanism for understanding how Neptune’s mass is distributed. The study could lead to a better understanding of the giant gas planets in general.