| Ask a scientist for our cosmic address, and you’ll get quite a mouthful. Here we are, on planet Earth, which spins on its axis and revolves around the Sun, which orbits in an ellipse around the center of the Milky Way, which is being pulled towards Andromeda within our
By Ethan Siegel
local group, which is being pushed around inside our cosmic supercluster, Laniakea, by galactic groups, clusters, and cosmic voids, which itself lies in the KBC void amidst the large-scale structure of the Universe. After decades of research, science has finally put together the complete picture, and can quantify exactly how fast we’re moving through space, on every scale.
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| • Satellite is now just over half-way through its five-year mission and the first batch of data has been released
• The one billion stars it has located are still only one per cent of the Milky Way’s estimated stellar population
• Gaia’s mapping effort is already unprecedented in scale, but the satellite still has several years left to run
• In the future Gaia will collect data about each star’s temperature, luminosity and chemical composition
Esa has unveiled a stunning 3D map of a billion stars in our galaxy that is 1,000 times more complete than anything that previously existed.
The data for the map was collected by a space-based probe called Gaia, which has been circling the sun nearly a million miles beyond Earth’s orbit since its launch in December 2013.
On its journey, the satellite has been discreetly snapping pictures of the Milky Way.
Now the European Space Agency has released the first batch of data collected by Gaia, which includes information on the brightness and position of over a billion stars. …
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|A computer simulation shows the G2 gas cloud’s encounter with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way, as well as the paths of the many other objects that orbit the black hole.
By Calla Cofield
A mystery object at the center of the galaxy has astronomers scratching their heads, and a new piece of information won’t be solving the case before the New Year.
In yet another twist to a saga of astronomical proportions, astronomers have identified what they say is a gas cloud that made a tight orbit around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy 13 years ago. The object could be one in a series of gas clouds, the second of which may soon become a snack for the black hole.
The newly discovered object has been dubbed G1. An object known as G2 has been in the news for more than a year, ever since astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany hypothesized that it was a gas cloud. If that is true, it should lose some of its material to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way (known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*). This giant black hole — its name is pronounced Sagittarius A(star) — doesn’t dine on material often, so the event would be a rare chance for astronomers to watch a black hole eat. . . .
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