Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (not really)

NOTE: Comets are always breaking up…they’re just more noticeable in the night sky!

Astronomy and Law

For the past several weeks, the Hergenrother comet has been breaking up during its most recent lap around the Sun.  Amateur and professional astronomers have been following the comet as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/Gemini)

“Comet Hergenrother is splitting apart,” said Rachel Stevenson from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Using the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s Gemini North Telescope on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, we have resolved that the nucleus of the comet has separated into at least four distinct pieces resulting in a large increase in dust material in its coma.”

Because of this the comet’s coma (he nebulous envelope around the nucleus of a comet) has brightened considerably.

If you want to see or photograph the breakup of comet Hergenrother, it can be seen in area the constellations of Andromeda and Lacerta.


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Eaten by the Milky Way!

NOTE: Another great little post explaining our grand universe…thanks!

Astronomy and Law

It is no secret that the Milky Way, our galaxy, is hungry.  Scientists believe that our galaxy has ingested at least two other galaxies.  New evidence of this has appeared again as scientists have discovered a stream of stars believed to be the remnant of an ancient star cluster slowly being eaten by the Milky Way.  The scientists used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has a vast treasure trove of information that scientists are slowly sifting through.

“The Milky Way is constantly gobbling up small galaxies and star clusters,” said Ana Bonaca, a Yale graduate student and lead author of a study forthcoming in Astrophysical Journal Letters. “The more powerful gravity of our Milky Way pulls these objects apart and their stars then become part of the Milky Way itself.”

Marla Geha, associate professor of astronomy at Yale and a co-author of the study and her team…

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