Though hundreds of enormous high-velocity gas clouds whiz around the outskirts of our galaxy, this so-called “Smith Cloud” is unique because its trajectory is well known.
Hubble Space Telescope astronomers are finding that the old adage, “What goes up, must come down” even applies to an immense cloud of hydrogen gas outside our Milky Way Galaxy. The invisible cloud is plummeting toward our galaxy at nearly 700,000 miles (1,100,000 kilometers) per hour.
Though hundreds of enormous high-velocity gas clouds whiz around the outskirts of our galaxy, this so-called “Smith Cloud” is unique because its trajectory is well known. New Hubble observations suggest it was launched from the outer regions of the galactic disk around 70 million years ago. The cloud was discovered in the early 1960s by Gail Smith, who detected the radio waves emitted by its hydrogen.
The cloud is on a return collision course and is expected to plow into the Milky Way’s disk in about 30 million years. When it does, astronomers believe it will ignite a spectacular burst of star formation, perhaps providing enough gas to make 2 million Suns.
Since astronomers discovered the Smith Cloud, a giant gas cloud plummeting toward the Milky Way, they have been unable to determine its composition, which would hold clues as to its origin. Astronomers have now determined that the cloud contains elements similar to our sun, which means the cloud originated in the Milky Way’s outer edges and not in intergalactic space as some have speculated.
The astronomers found that the colossal cloud loud is as rich in sulfur as the Milky Way’s outer disk, a region about 40,000 light-years from the galaxy’s center and about 15,000 light-years farther out than our sun and solar system are. This means that it was polluted by material from stars. This would not happen if it were pristine hydrogen from outside the galaxy. Instead, the cloud appears to have had an intimate relationship with the Milky Way, but was somehow ejected from the outer Milky Way disk about 70 million years ago and is now boomeranging back onto its disk.
Green Bank, in Pocahontas County in West Virginia, USA, is one of the quiet residential place on earth. Here there is absolutely no cell phone signal, no Wi-Fi signal, even here there is no radio and television waves that can be captured.
But Green Bank instead of lagging behind in technology. Instead, this area is home to one of the world’s largest radio telescope named Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. GBT is the reason why this town electromagnetic silence from the crowd.
Radio telescope works by detecting the electromagnetic waves coming from distant galaxies. This signal is so faint that small emission of radio waves from electronic gadgets may interfere with the reading of the radio telescope. For this reason, all mobile phones, Wi-Fi, radio and other communication devices are prohibited here. There is no cell phone towers around this area, there is no music played on the radio or on television soap operas. Even gasoline-fueled cars are not allowed because gasoline engines use a spark to burn a mixture of fuel and air, and electrical sparks generate electromagnetic waves.
A group of scientists at Carnegie Mellon believe that by the year 2050, robots designed to play soccer will surpass their professional human counterparts. This juicy nugget of techno-speculation materializes in the middle of Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, a new documentary broadly about the internet from Werner Herzog. Sporty robot prototypes, which look like Roombas with attitude, have already been created by an emotional team of students who have developed love for one robot the way sports fans adore Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. But they disappear just as swiftly as they entered in the dizzying collage of subjects Herzog has stuffed into the 98-minute film.
Divided into 10 parts, each introduced with a Herzogian title like “The Internet of Me,” the doc spends all-too-brief time with the people who create, protect, advance, and fear the internet — and in one stark case, those who have found a way to escape it.
The graph made astronomer Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian sit up at her desk at Yale University. Something was definitely strange — the line was mostly flat but had two sharp dips resembling stalactites hanging from the ceiling of a cave.
The dips implied that light coming from the star KIC 8462852, more than 1,400 light years away, had dimmed twice in a most unexpected way.
The starlight graph Boyajian was looking at in the summer of 2013 is part of a large data set that the space-based Kepler telescope collected during its four-year mission to hunt for Earth-like planets around other stars. Dips in the amount of light coming from a star can indicate a planet passing in front of it. The bigger the planet, the larger the light dip. Boyajian’s graph suggested the presence of a planet more massive than any astronomer has ever seen — or maybe something stranger.
The two dimming events she observed from KIC 8462852 happened around the 800th and 1,500th days of observation, when the star’s light dropped by 15 and 22 percent, respectively. A planet the size of Jupiter, roughly 11 times the size of Earth, would cause a dip of only 1 percent — so whatever is orbiting KIC 8462852 is much bigger than the largest planet in our solar system.