Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Milky Way's Vast Polar Structure


This is being trumpeted as a major blow to the concept of "dark matter," but I'm going to ignore that aspect of it, which skirts the edge of being celebrity science gossip.  It's a very cool discovery, and one that expands our image and understanding of our home galaxy.

A team of scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany, led by PhD student Marcel Pawlowski and astronomy professor Pavel Kroupa, say they have found a complex structure of satellite galaxies, globular clusters, and star and gas swarms gravitationally connected with the Milky Way Galaxy,  at right angles to the plane of the ecliptic at the galactic north and south.  These exist as close as 33,000 light years from the center of the galaxy to as far as a million light years away.  

There's a simple animation of their their findings up above.  They're calling the totality a Vast Polar Structure.

You can read about it here.

It's a strange and beautiful universe we live in, innit?  I wonder what kind of stories you could set on one of those star swarms.


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