ILOA 2012 Galaxy Poster for 21st Century Education

The ILOA 2012 Galaxy Poster is a powerful resource representing the next dimension beyond maps of the World and Solar System. Distributed free by the non-profit ILOA to Galaxy Forum participants and associated institutions around the world, the Poster includes a Milky Way schematic based on the latest research and insets outlining dimensional and compositional features.

ILOA 2012 GalaxyPoster, Galaxy Forum(click for full-size image)

The Milky Way’s black hole is spewing out planet-size ‘spitballs’

The Milky Way’s black hole is spewing out planet-size ‘spitballs’,, Christine Pulliam, 9 January 2017

How Far Away is That Galaxy? Vast Catalog Has Answers

How Far Away is That Galaxy? Vast Catalog Has Answers,

NASA, JPL-Caltech, 5 January 2017

See a Virtual Milky Way Map from Europe’s Gaia Spacecraft

See a Virtual Milky Way Map from Europe’s Gaia Spacecraft,, Tariq Malik, 16 November 2016

A Long-Lost Gas Cloud Will Slam into Our Galaxy in 30 Million Years

A Long-Lost Gas Cloud Will Slam into Our Galaxy in 30 Million Years,, Elizabeth Howell, 3 November 2016

This Is the Most Detailed Hydrogen Map of the Milky Way Ever Created

This Is the Most Detailed Hydrogen Map of the Milky Way Ever Created,

Gizmodo, 20 October 2016

Galaxy Count May Now Top 2 Trillion Across Universe

Galaxy Count May Now Top 2 Trillion Across Universe,

Associated Press, ABC News, 13 October 2016

ESA Gaia Spacecraft to Release Data on Positions of Roughly 1 Billion Stars

Upcoming Galaxy Map Could Radically Transform How We See the Milky Way,

Scientific American, 12 September 2016

Average Color of Milky Way Galaxy Calculated

One example of a Milky Way-like galaxy known as SDSS J083909.27+450747.7. Image credit: Brittany McDonald (McMaster University), Armin Rest (Space Telescope Science Institute), and Jeffrey Newman.

A new study on the color of our Galaxy by Prof. Jeffrey Newman of University of Pittsburgh and Timothy Licquia, a PhD student, was presented at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January 2012. The team used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to find galaxies similar to the Milky Way in terms of number of stars and rate of star formation. Comparing these characteristics to the observable colors of the respective galaxies allowed researchers to calculate the expected color of our Galaxy, as it would appear from the outside.

Newman’s poetic and more objective descriptions of the expected average color of our Milky Way are as follows:

“fine-grained new spring snow seen in the early morning light, about an hour after dawn”

“D48.4 standard illuminant (i.e., a color temperature of 4840 K)”

“a light bulb with a color temperature of 4700-5000K and color rendering index (CRI) above 90 would be a good approximation”

Newman made an interesting point that the SDSS Telescope at the Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico, despite its small size of 2.5 meters, has been “one of the most scientifically productive in history.”

Images of 25 Milky Way analog galaxies found by Licquia and Newman. Image Credit: SDSS

Galaxy Formation Simulated on Swiss Supercomuters

The research group including Professor Lucio Mayer of University of Zurich and astronomers from University of California created the galaxy formation simulation using supercomputer resources of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre and the NASA Colombia Cluster.  Their work represents a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the dynamic formation of barred spiral galaxies much like the Milky Way.

Between Switzerland and California the project took 2 years of dedicated work and 5,000,000 CPU hours. That means it would have taken your average PC many hundreds of years to calculate.

In a separate video during an interview by Michele De Lorenzi, Mayer describes the process of creating the simulation and some of the difficulties that held back decades of attempts to successfully simulate formation of large complex galaxies.

Galaxy Structure Emerging From New Discoveries

Outer Section Of Galaxy Arm Found, Leads To Wide-View Re-Evaluation Of Galaxy Plane

The often overlooked regions askew to the galactic plane are coming into new focus. Because the galaxy was thought to be relatively flat apart from the central bulge, very little observation of areas outside the plane has been conducted. However scientists are now uncovering a pronounced warp in the disk of the Galaxy, with the help of this new found section of the Scutum-Centaurus Arm. Looking forward this will lead to new approaches within galactic science and observation, as well as exciting new discoveries.

Our understanding of the Galaxy continues to improve with a recent discovery, 49,000 light-years from the center of our Galaxy, by Thomas Dame and Patrick Thaddeus of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

(Credit: R. Hurt SSC)

Data indicate that the galactic region they have observed and studied is the outer extension of the Scutum-Centaurus spiral arm, which extends from the bar-shaped star cluster at the center of the Galaxy. This section of the arm had never before been cataloged. Scrutiny of 21cm wavelength radio emissions allowed Dame to track the arm structure through the sky and he then was able to follow-up looking for evidence of molecular clouds on a CfA 1.2m radio telescope at Harvard.

“One can now trace the Scutum-Centaurus Arm nearly 360 degrees around the galactic system.” said Thaddeus.

The team was able to find and identify this new section of the Scutum-Centaurus formation despite that it warps out of the galactic plane into less-studied vectors.

A close symmetry is established as the Perseus arm extends from the opposite side of the galactic center. The new information bolsters the concept that our galaxy has only these 2 major arms.

(Credit: Axel Mellinger)

Earth Alternatives

With the recent search for habitable planets based on observations by Kepler, and other instruments, we would like to pose the following question to the Galaxy Forum Community.

The Best Look Yet

This stunning image (Photo Release ESO1118) of the NGC 6744 Galaxy, from the European Southern Observatory‘s La Silla Observatory in Chile, represents the best look yet at what our own Milky Way Galaxy may look like.

Humans have not been able to reach far enough to image our Galaxy from the outside, although some projects have attempted to generate an image from within, using special optics and calculations. For example, two teams headed by Sean Carey of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology and Edward Churchwell of the University of Wisconsin, used 800,000 pictures from  the Spitzer Space Telescope to create an insightful view of the inner Milky Way Galaxy.

At the time, this image (Credit: JPL) was billed as the highest resolution infrared picture ever taken of our Galaxy.

GLIMPSE, Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire, was a more extensive survey conducted by the IRAC instrument on board Spitzer Space Telescope to generate an incredible high-resolution panoramic view of our Galaxy. The best way to explore this captivating picture is the online GLIMPSE Image Viewer, hosted by the Space Science Institute.

While the new image  from ESO is not actually of the Milky Way, astronomers indicate that it is the best representation currently available. Moreover, we are fortunate that the angles worked out so that we get an ‘over-head’ view.

Galaxy Hunter

Galaxy Hunter is a great online resource for 21st Century science educators and students. Data from Hubble Deep Field images provide the statistical and graphical backdrop for an extremely informative exploration of galaxy science. Critical analysis and methodological skills are covered in a practical and engaging way. The activity covers statistical and scientific issues related to Bias and Sample Size, while providing a significant amount of information about Galaxies and the Universe.

This resource targets students in Highschool, specifically grades 10-12, but could be adapted by the teachers for use at other levels.

Teaching tips are available here. These include lesson plans and resource overviews, as well as reference to National Standards.  (Credits: Frances Pittelli, Lynnette Roller, Denise Smith)

Moonbots 2011

Moonbots 2011 is a Google Lunar X PRIZE LEGO MINDSTORMS Challenge, and it correlates directly with the projects and goals of Galaxy Forums and the International Lunar Observatory Association.

“In the MoonBots 2.0 Challenge, students get to produce videos, gain computer programming skills, and learn the latest in technological advances at it relates to space exploration. It is important to inspire this generation with the Google Lunar X PRIZE and help kids understand that Moon exploration is still relevant and exciting,”

Chanda Gonzales, Google Lunar X PRIZE Education Manager.

This is the second annual Moonbots Challenge. The video below provides a brief explanation of the Challenge by Chanda Gonzales from the X PRIZE Foundation and Steven Canvin from LEGO MINDSTORMS.