Is The Milky Way Much Larger Than We Think?

is the milky way much larger than we think

Democritus was the first to claim that the Milky Way consisted of distant stars, but it was William Herschel in 1785 that made the first map of the Milky Way.  Herschel was the first to study and measure the distribution of stars in space, and when he counted the stars he came to a conclusion that they were grouped in a huge disk formation.  It is believed that this disk–our Milky Way Galaxy–is about 100,000 light years from tip to tip; however, recent evidence may suggest that it could be about 50 percent larger than we initially ever thought.

Continue reading

Enceladus May Harbor a Warm Ocean, Life

warm ocean on Enceladus

Back in 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first revealed that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, had active geologic activity.  It discovered an icy spray issuing out of the moon’s southern polar region as well as temperatures in that region that were higher than expected.  Currently, it is being suggested, that there also may be a 6-mile deep, 25 mile thick, ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.

Continue reading

Astronomers Discover a Black Hole as Massive as 12 Billion Suns

Astronomers Discover a Black Hole as Massive as 12 Billion Suns

In a galaxy far, far away (that is to say, about 12.8 billion light-years away) a supermassive black hole has been discovered that is estimated to weigh as much as 12 billion suns and is 420 trillion times brighter than the sun.  But it isn’t the weight and size that is baffling scientists–it’s how young it is.

Continue reading

The Happiest Place in the Universe? How About SDSS J1038+4849

SDSS J1038+4849

The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured an image which looks remarkably like a smiling face in the sky.  It is SDSS J1038+4849, a galaxy cluster that resides just outside the constellation of Ursa Major.  But what makes this image look so close to a smiley face?

Continue reading

Super Saturn Discovered with Rings Stretching 55 Million Miles

j1407

Because of its detailed ring system, Saturn is known as the “jewel of the solar system.”  Saturn’s rings stretch from edge-to-edge as wide as 175,000 miles, about the distance from the Earth to the Moon.  Even though the other gas planets in our solar system have a series of rings, Saturn’s system of rings is the most prominent and well known.  However, a new exoplanet–some 420 light years from Earth–has been discovered with a ring system that dwarfs any ring system ever before seen; it is a ring system over 200 times larger than the rings of Saturn.

Continue reading

New Images of Dwarf Planet Ceres from the Dawn Spacecraft

ceres

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has traveled roughly 3 billion miles at this point and it’s finally set its sights on the dwarf planet Ceres.  Images of Ceres were released back in December, but those images were just for calibration.  Dawn’s recently captured pictures are about 27 pixels across, about three times better than what it took last month.

Continue reading

Kepler Finds First Exo-Planet, a “Super Earth”

121814nasa

In 2013, the Kepler telescope had to stop planet hunting due to the failure of two reaction wheels.  But that doesn’t mean the telescope is completely out of commission.   In fact, using a new technique that takes advantage of the solar wind, the Kepler telescope just discovered its first planet,  a planet that could be similar to Earth but over twice the size.

Continue reading

Water on Comet 67p Is like Nothing on Earth

Comet 67p water

Finding water on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes as no surprise.  Comets have been known to carry large patches of ice on them.  What does come as a surprise, however, is the general makeup of this water.  It is a finding that turns previously held beliefs on their head.

Continue reading