NASA Scientist: Dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy



A NASA scientist’s incredible animation shows how dinosaurs roamed the Earth on the other side of the Milky Way galaxy

dinosaur park snow serbia dinosaurs
A dinosaur park sees freezing weather and snowfall in Belgrade, Serbia, February 26, 2018. 
REUTERS/Djordje Kojadinovic

When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the planet was on a completely different side of the galaxy.

A new animation by NASA scientist Jessie Christiansen shows just how long the dinosaurs’ reign lasted, and how short the era of humans has been in comparison, by tracing our solar system’s movement through the Milky Way.

Our sun orbits the galaxy’s center, completing its rotation every 250 million years or so. So Christiansen’s animation shows that last time our solar system was at its current point in the galaxy, the Triassic Period was in full swing and dinosaurs were just beginning to emerge. Many of the most iconic dinosaurs roamed Earth when the planet was in a very different part of the Milky Way.

Christiansen got the idea to illustrate this history when she was leading a stargazing party at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Attendees were astonished when she mentioned that our solar system had been across the galaxy when dinosaurs roamed.

“That was the first time I realized that those time scales — archaeological, fossil record time scales and astronomical time scales — actually kind of match along together,” Christiansen told Business Insider. “Then I had this idea that I could map out dinosaur evolution through the galaxy’s rotation.”

The resulting video puts both timelines in perspective:

Dr. Jessie Christiansen


I have always been interested in galactic archaeology, but I don’t think this is what they meant.

Did you know that dinosaurs lived on the other side of the Galaxy?

Embedded video

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Christiansen said it took her about four hours to make the film using timed animations in PowerPoint. She also noted a couple minor corrections to the text in her video: plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs, and we complete a galactic orbit every 250 million years (not 200 million years).

‘A spiral through space’

Galactic movement is more complicated than the video shows, though. The other stars and planetary systems in the galaxy are also moving, at different speeds and in different orbits. The inner portions spin faster than the outer regions.

What’s more, the galaxy itself is moving through space, slowly approaching the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

“The animation kind of makes it seem like we’ve come back to the same spot, but in reality the whole galaxy has moved a very long way,” Christiansen said. “It’s more like we’re doing a spiral through space. As the whole galaxy’s moving and we’re rotating around the center, it kind of creates this spiral.”

milky way galaxy center spitzer infrared
The center of our Milky Way galaxy, imaged by the Spitzer Space Telescope’s infrared cameras, October 9, 2019. 
NASA, JPL-Caltech, Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al.

So in the solar system’s rotation around the galactic center, we’re not returning to a fixed point. The neighborhood is different from the last time we were here.

Earth, however, is not drastically different; it still supports complex life. That’s partially thanks to the path of our sun’s galactic orbit.

“Our solar system doesn’t travel to the center of the galaxy and then back again. We always stay about this distance away,” Christiansen said.

In other words, even as our solar system travels through the Milky Way, it doesn’t approach the inhospitable center, where life probably wouldn’t survive.

“There’s a lot of stars, it’s dynamically unstable, there’s a lot of radiation,” Christiansen said. “Our solar system certainly doesn’t pass through that.”

That’s a huge part of why dinosaurs, mammals, or any other form of life can exist on Earth.

SEE ALSO: A huge explosion sliced through our galaxy just 3.5 million years ago, as human ancestors walked the Earth. Scientists think it was nuclear activity in the black hole at the Milky Way’s center.

DON’T MISS: The best microscope photos of the year reveal a strange and hidden universe in astonishing detail

More: Space dinosaurs Milky Way Galaxy

Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby



Huge Cosmic Structures Already Existed When the Universe Was a Baby

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.

This image shows the region where the ancient galactic structure was found. The blue shading shows the area it covers. The red objects in the zoomed-in bits are the 12 galaxies.
(Image: © NAOJ/Harikane et al.)

Astronomers have discovered the oldest cluster of galaxies ever seen, which dates to the early universe.

The discovery, which could help explain the shape of the modern cosmos, reveals 12 galaxies that existed in a clump 13 billion years ago — just about 700 million years after the Big Bang. We can see them now because they’re so far away in the expanding universe (13 billion light-years) that their starlight is only now reaching Earth. One of the galaxies, a mammoth named Himiko after a mythological Japanese queen, was discovered a decade ago by the same team.

Surprisingly, the other 11 galaxies aren’t clustered around the giant Himiko, the researchers wrote in a paper that will be published on Sept. 30 in The Astrophysical Journal and is available as a draft on the website arXiv. Instead, Himiko sits at the edge of the system, which the researchers call a “protocluster” because it’s so small and ancient compared to most of the clusters we can see in the universe..

Related: 11 Fascinating Facts About Our Milky Way Galaxy

“It is reasonable to find a protocluster near a massive object, such as Himiko. However, we’re surprised to see that Himiko was located not in the center of the protocluster but on the edge, 500 million light-years away from the center,” Masami Ouchi, a co-author of the paper and an astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the University of Tokyo, said in a statement.

Understanding how galaxy clusters came to be turns out to be important for understanding the galaxies they contain. Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, show up in clumps with other galaxies, so the galaxies aren’t evenly distributed throughout the universe. And that clumping seems to affect their behavior, astronomers have said. Galaxies in high-density, clumped environments full of galaxies form stars in different ways than do galaxies in low-density environments empty of galaxies. And the impact of clumping seems to have changed over time, the researchers said.

In more recent times, the researchers wrote in the paper, “there is a clear trend that the star-formation activity of galaxies tends to be lower in high-density environment than low-density environment.”

So, clumped-up galaxies these days form stars less often than their more independent cousins do. It’s as if they’re aging faster in their clusters, the researchers wrote, becoming geriatric and giving up on making new stars.

But in the ancient universe, the trend seems to have been reversed. Galaxies in highly packed clusters formed stars faster, not slower, remaining young and spry compared with their cousins not in dense clusters.

Still, “protoclusters” like this one from the early eons of the universe are rarely found and are poorly understood, the researchers wrote. These clumps tend to be much smaller than modern examples, which can contain hundreds of galaxies.

The further back telescopes peer into time, the fewer proto-clusters turn up. It’s possible many of them are simply obscured by intergalactic dust. The astronomers hope, they wrote, that the new discovery will help flesh out the picture and explain how the state of things 13 billion years ago changed over time to produce that clustered universe we see today.

Originally published on Live Science.

“Gargantua” –The Black Hole That Could Swallow Our Solar System



“Gargantua” –The Black Hole That Could Swallow Our Solar System


M87 Galaxy


This past April, with an event that was as epic as the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, the world viewed its first image of what had once been purely theoretical, a black hole at the heart of galaxy M87 the size of our solar system, and bigger, with the mass of six and a half billion suns that was captured by a lens the size of planet Earth and 4,000 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Astronomers have theorized that the galaxy that harbors the black hole grew to its massive size by merging with several other black holes in elliptical galaxy M87, the largest, most massive galaxy in the nearby universe thought to have been formed by the merging of 100 or so smaller galaxies. The M87 black hole’s large size and relative proximity, led astronomers to think that it could be the first black hole that they could actually “see.”

The black hole that that we can now actually see is frozen in time it was 55 million years ago, because it’s so far away the light took that long to reach us. “Over those eons, we emerged on Earth along with our myths, differentiated cultures, ideologies, languages and varied beliefs,” says astrophysicist Janna Levin with Columbia University.

“The Gates of Hell, The End of Spacetime” –World’s Scientists Speak Out On EHT’s Black Hole Picture

The Event Horizon Telescope that imaged the black hole is actually 10 telescopes, linked across four continents in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Spain, and Antarctica, and designed to scan the cosmos in radio waves. For a few days in April 2017, the observatories studied the skies in tandem, creating a gargantuan telescope nearly the size of the planet.

“A medium-sized galaxy fell through the center of M87, and as a consequence of the enormous gravitational tidal forces, its stars are now scattered over a region that is 100 times larger than the original galaxy!” said Ortwin Gerhard, head of the dynamics group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.  Observations July 2018 with ESO’s Very Large Telescope revealed that the giant elliptical galaxy swallowed the entire medium-sized galaxy over the last billion years.

“What Sparked the Big Bang?” –The Black Hole at the Beginning of the Universe

M87, imaged above by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, is home to the supermassive black hole that spews two jets of material out into space at nearly the speed of light. The inset shows a close-up view of the shockwaves created by the two jets. This image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the entire M87 galaxy in infrared light.

Located about 55 million light-years from Earth, M87 has been a subject of astronomical study for more than 100 years and has been imaged by many NASA observatories, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and NuSTAR.

“Worlds in Collision” –Dangers of Milky Way’s ‘Reawakened’ Supermassive Black Hole

In 1918, astronomer Heber Curtis first noticed “a curious straight ray” extending from the galaxy’s center. This bright jet of high-energy material, produced by a disk of material spinning rapidly around the black hole, is visible in multiple wavelengths of light, from radio waves through X-rays. When the particles in the jet impact the interstellar medium (the sparse material filling the space between stars in M87), they create a shockwave that radiates in infrared and radio wavelengths of light but not visible light. In the Spitzer image, the shockwave is more prominent than the jet itself.



This zoom video above starts with a view of the ALMA telescope array in Chile and zooms in on the heart of M87, showing successively more detailed observations and culminating in the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole’s silhouette. (ESO/L. Calçada, Digitized Sky Survey 2, ESA/Hubble, RadioAstron, De Gasperin et al., Kim et al., EHT Collaboration).


M87 Black Hole


On the right is the first-ever image of the black hole at the heart of galaxy M87, taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. The NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory’s wide-field view of the M87 galaxy (left) reveals the jet of high-energy particles launched by the intense gravitational and magnetic fields around the black hole. Credit: X-ray (left): NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen; Radio (right): Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration.

Harvard history of science professor Peter L. Galison, a collaborator on Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), said that scientists proposed theoretical arguments for black holes as early as 1916. It was not until the 1970s, however, that researchers substantiated the theory by observing extremely dense areas of matter. Scientists announced in 2016 that, for the first time, they had detected gravitational waves — which many argued were produced by black holes merging, and therefore were evidence that black holes exist.

The image marked the culmination of years of work undertaken by a team of 200 scientists in 59 institutes across 18 countries. The project, to which other scientists at Harvard’s Black Hole Institute also contributed, drew on data collected by eight telescopes whose locations range from Hawaii to the South Pole.

“A Fractured Cosmos?” –Unknown Object Detected at Milky Way’s Black Hole

In contrast to M87’s monster, 1,500 times more massive than the Milky Way’s central black hole, Sag A* has four million times the mass of our sun, which means that it’s about 44 million kilometers across. That may sound like a big target, but for the telescope array on Earth some 26,000 light-years (or 245 trillion kilometers) away, it’s like trying to photograph a golf ball on the Moon.

“The Last Photon Orbit” –Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole ‘On Deck’ for the EHT

“More than 50 years ago, scientists saw that there was something very bright at the center of our galaxy,” Paul McNamara, an astrophysicist at the European Space Agency and an expert on black holes, AFP’s Marlowe Hood. It has a gravitational pull strong enough to make stars orbit around it very quickly—as fast as 20 years, compared to our Solar System’s journey, which takes about 230 million years to circle the center of the Milky Way.

“We are sitting in the plain of our galaxy—you have to look through all the stars and dust to get to the center,” said McNamara.

The Daily Galaxy via EHTThe GuardianThe AtlanticNew York Times

Astronomers Detected Planets Outside Our Galaxy in 2018



For The First Time Ever, Astronomers Detected Planets Outside Our Galaxy in 2018

23 DEC 2018

In an incredible world first, astrophysicists detected multiple planets in another galaxy earlier this year, ranging from masses as small as the Moon to ones as great as Jupiter.

Given how difficult it is to find exoplanets even within our Milky Way galaxy, this is no mean feat. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma achieved this in February thanks to clever use of gravitational microlensing.

The technique, first predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, has been used to find exoplanets within Milky Way, and it’s the only known way of finding the smallest and most distant planets, thousands of light-years from Earth.

As a planet orbits a star, the gravitational field of the system can bend the light of a distant star behind it.

We know what this looks like when it’s just two stars, so when a planet enters the mix, it creates a further disturbance in the light that reaches us – a recognisable signature for the planet.

So far, 53 exoplanets within the Milky Way have been detected using this method. To find planets farther afield, though, something a little bit more powerful than a single star was required.

Oklahoma University astronomers Xinyu Dai and Eduardo Guerras studied a quasar 6 billion light-years away called RX J1131-1231, one of the best gravitationally lensed quasars in the sky.

The gravitational field of a galaxy 3.8 billion light-years away between us and the quasar bends light in such a way that it creates four images of the quasar, which is an active supermassive black hole that’s extremely bright in X-ray, thanks to the intense heat of its accretion disc.

Using data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory, the researchers found that there were peculiar line energy shifts in the quasar’s light that could only be explained by planets in the galaxy lensing the quasar.

It turned out to be around 2,000 unbound planets with masses ranging between the Moon and Jupiter, between the galaxy’s stars.

“We are very excited about this discovery. This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy,” Dai said.

Of course, we haven’t seen the planets directly, and are unlikely to in the lifetime of anyone alive today. But being able to detect them at all is an incredible testament to the power of microlensing, not to mention being evidence that there are planets in other galaxies.

Of course, common sense would dictate that planets are out there – but evidence is always nice.

“This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be,” said Guerras.

“This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away, and there is not the slightest chance of observing these planets directly, not even with the best telescope one can imagine in a science fiction scenario.

“However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science.”

The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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