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19 December 2013 12:36 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
Five federally funded optical and radio telescopes in the United States could be forced to shut down over the next 3...
A 2-year budget agreement pushes back the threat of sequestration but leaves scientists still wondering how much money...
After a decade away from physics, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California,...
Computer scientists and others have teamed up to persuade the 117 state parties to the Convention on Certain...
The swine flu pandemic of late 2009 had a peculiar aftereffect in parts of Europe: a spike in children being diagnosed...
After 20 years of trying, researchers have finally convicted massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia as the culprit in...
- 19 December 2013 12:36 pm , Vol. 342 , #6165
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ScienceShot: The Milky Way Does the Wave
22 October 2013 5:45 pm
Stars in our part of the Milky Way seem to be doing “the wave,” a new study suggests. The finding comes from an analysis of the motions of more than 70,000 red giant stars that lie within 6500 light-years of Earth—a distance that, in one direction, reaches about one-fourth of the way to the center of the galaxy. Above the horizontal plane that slices through the center of the galaxy, stars closer to the center of the galaxy than the sun are, in general, moving away from the plane at speeds of 10 kilometers per second or less. Meanwhile, those farther from the galactic center than the sun are moving toward the plane—in some cases, as fast as 17 kilometers per second. All together, the complexity of motions observed by the team is similar to that seen among molecules in a gas with a sound wave passing through it, the researchers report this month in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. As of yet, the reasons for these anomalous motions aren’t clear, the researchers note. The “wave” may indeed be a ripple caused by a long-ago collision with a small companion galaxy, or it may result from perturbations in pressure triggered as the Milky Way’s spiral arms (artist’s concept above) push their way through space as the galaxy rotates.