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Posts Tagged "milky way"

Dark Star Diaries

How to See a Black Hole: Introducing Dark Star Diaries

Sagittarius A*

The image you see here is a computer-generated model of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which we call Sagittarius A*. More precisely, it is a model of the “shadow” that Sagittarius A*, with its mass of four million suns, should cast. The glowing blob in the lower right corner is [...]

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Life, Unbounded

The Biggest Cosmological Problem Is…

The whole sky (again in Galactic coordinates) seen by Planck (ESA)

…living in a place that makes doing cosmology hard. Let’s backtrack a little. Unless you’ve been living under a particularly thick and insulating rock you’ll know that in recent months the world of experimental cosmology (what would have previously been called observational cosmology, or just plain old astronomy) has been on tenterhooks waiting to see [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Voyager’s Exit To The Stars…In 17,000 Years

eso1316a

Recent debates over whether or not the Voyager 1 spacecraft has ‘left the solar system’ typically leave out some critical details. The limits of the Sun’s particle radiation is not the physical edge of the contents of the solar system, but it is the point of changeover to the exceedingly tenuous atmosphere of matter and [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Andromeda mon amour

Andromeda (GALEX/NASA/JPL)

There is something beautiful yet ominous about our nearest large galactic neighbor. The Andromeda galaxy is a trillion star behemoth that spans some six times the diameter of the full Moon when seen through a telescope. At only 2.5 million light years away from the Milky Way it’s barely an intergalactic stone’s throw from us, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Hole Roundup

Spinning black hole (NASA)

Black holes, black holes, and more black holes. In the past few weeks I’ve been thinking, talking, and even dreaming about black holes (yes really, somnolent thoughts seem well suited to these fantastic objects). Mostly this has been an effect of my book Gravity’s Engines hitting the shelves, but it’s also because barely a day [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Holes are Everywhere

Holes are everywhere, if you look...

This post is the second in a series that accompanies the upcoming publication of my book ‘Gravity’s Engines: How Bubble-Blowing Black Holes Rule Galaxies, Stars, and Life in the Cosmos’ (Scientific American/FSG). Black holes, even the really hugely massive ones, are tiny – positively microscopic pinpricks scattered throughout the vastness of spacetime. Even the largest, [...]

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Life, Unbounded

From Andromeda With Love

Here comes another galaxy... (Credit: NASA, ESA, Z. Levay and R. van der Marel (STScI), T. Hallas, and A. Mellinger)

Some recent research on the long-term future of the Milky Way prompted me to dig out and re-polish this post from the Life, Unbounded archives of 2010. Turns out it’s more relevant than ever… The galactic theme in the context of planets and life is an interesting one. Take our own particular circumstances. As unappealingly [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Black Holes Are Coming!

The center of the Milky Way seen in 6cm radio emission. Our central supermassive black hole lurks in the spiral-ring like structure to the right.(Credit: VLA, Prof. K.Y. Lo, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Astronomy)

On August 14th 2012 my new book, Gravity’s Engines, will launch. I’m enormously excited about this, and over the next couple of months – increasingly so as publication date approaches, Life, Unbounded will carry some posts that talk about the science between the covers. The subject matter of Gravity’s Engines may appear a little surprising [...]

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Life, Unbounded

‘Mass Effect’ Solves The Fermi Paradox?

Who's been munching my galaxy?

Right now, all across the planet, millions of people are engaged in a struggle with enormous implications for the very nature of life itself. Making sophisticated tactical decisions and wrestling with chilling and complex moral puzzles, they are quite literally deciding the fate of our existence. Or at least they are pretending to. The video [...]

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Observations

Zoom through a Stunning Panorama of the Milky Way

The Spitzer Space Telescope'ss GLIMPSE project has created a huge zoomable panorama of the Milky Way. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GLIMPSE Team

Do yourself a favor. Don’t read this article just yet—first, take a moment to zoom around this incredible panorama of our galaxy and soak in the splendor: http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360/aladin. Okay, are you back? Now we can talk science. The photograph you just saw—actually, a mosaic of two million photographs—represents the infrared view of the disk of [...]

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Observations

Dung Beetles Follow the Stars

dung beetle milky way stars orient straight path

The humble dung beetle makes its living rolling big balls of excrement to feed its offspring and itself. But this lowly occupation doesn’t mean the insect doesn’t have its eye on the skies—even when the sun goes down. Recent research has shown that African ball-rolling dung beetles (Scarabaeus satyrus) use strong light cues from the [...]

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