The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Thursday, January 12, 2006

Couldn't See the Galaxy for the Stars 

I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "Can't See the Forest for the Trees". Well, astronomers have just discovered that they couldn't see the galaxy for the stars:

A huge but very faint structure, containing hundreds of thousands of stars spread over an area nearly 5,000 times the size of a full moon, has been discovered and mapped by astronomers of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II).

At an estimated distance of 30,000 light years (10 kiloparsecs) from Earth, the structure lies well within the confines of the Milky Way Galaxy. However, it does not follow any of Milky Way's three main components: a flattened disk of stars in which the sun resides, a bulge of stars at the center of the Galaxy and an extended, roughly spherical, stellar halo. Instead, the researchers believe that the most likely interpretation of the new structure is a dwarf galaxy that is merging into the Milky Way.
...
"Some of the stars in this Milky Way companion have been seen with telescopes for centuries,'" explained Princeton University graduate student Mario Juric, principal author of the findings describing what may well be our closest galactic neighbor. "But because the galaxy is so close, its stars are spread over a huge swath of the sky, and they always used to be lost in the sea of more numerous Milky Way stars. This galaxy is so big, we couldn't see it before."

This sort of stuff always fascinates me... and there's been a lot of news lately in this regard. Matt's been talking about it recently too. For a while, I had been reading a lot about cosmology, string theory, and advanced physics... but recently I've just been reading little news articles here and there. I can only understand so much of it... but some of the stuff that we're figuring out is just amazing. Of course, by "we"... I mean the royal we... as I couldn't figure out any of this stuff. My knowledge of mathematics starts to break down once you get past the numbers 0 and 1.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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