Nearby Gas Clouds Actually Form Behemoth Structure That Might Be the Milky Way’s Arm, Study Finds

Astronomers have discovered that many of the star-forming regions we see in the sky actually seem to form an undulating, 8,800-light-year-long wave containing 3 million solar masses’ worth of gas that could make up our local arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Read More >>

So What’s Going on With That ‘Hurricane of Dark Matter?’

It’s the perfect science-fiction device: a hurricane of dark matter. Recent, real-life research has demonstrated that our Sun is currently engulfed in a so-called a stellar stream. Some publications have seized on this ominous-sounding idea, reporting that Earth is about to be walloped by a dark matter storm—but in fact, if it exists, we’re already inside the storm. The reality of the situation isn’t quite so dire, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Read More >>

Our Galactic Neighbours Once Collided, New Observation Suggests

Should you find yourself in the southern hemisphere beneath dark skies, look up: You’ll see two faint, glowing smudges beside the vast, glowing trail of our Milky Way galaxy. These two Magellanic Clouds are galaxies, too, though smaller ones orbiting our own. And some time in the past, perhaps back in the dinosaur days, those two clouds may have collided. Read More >>

Our Galaxy Was Walloped by a Neighbour in Its Not-So-Distant Past, New Analysis Suggests

Space is a chaotic, ever-changing place. But that’s not limited to exploding stars and colliding black holes. Even our own Milky Way galaxy could have recently received a massive jolt from which it is still recovering. Read More >>

Incredible New View of the Milky Way Is the Largest Star Map Ever

The European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft team has dropped its long-awaited trove of data about 1.7 billion stars. You can see a new visualisation of all those stars in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies above, but you really need to zoom in to appreciate just how much stuff there is in the map. Yes, the specks are stars. Read More >>

Today’s Star Map Release Could Revolutionise Our Understanding of Astronomy 

Astronomers from the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission are releasing the biggest map of our galaxy ever today, using data collected by the Gaia space telescope. That includes 1.7 billion stars, as well as new information that could potentially solve some cosmic mysteries. Read More >>

Incoming Star Could Spawn Swarms of Comets When It Passes Our Sun

For years, scientists have known that Gliese 710 will come excruciatingly close to our Solar System in about a million years. An updated analysis suggests this star will come considerably closer than we thought, during which time it’s expected to spawn dangerous cometary swarms. Read More >>

The Largest 3D Map of the Galaxy Contains Over a Billion Stars

Some may call excessive, unreasonable, exhibitionist. What kind of masochist wants to stare at a billion pinpricks of light all at once, anyway? Read More >>

How the Gaia Telescope Will Scan the Entire Sky

When the Gaia space telescope launches next week, it's going to attempt the biggest astronomy project of all time: it will try and scan the entire sky, capturing images of at least a billion stars in our galaxy. Read More >>

monster machines
How the Gaia Spacecraft Will Reveal the True Nature of Our Galaxy

Our solar system is positioned near the center of the Milky Way, not far from the galactic core. It's a nice part of town, sure, but it doesn't allow for a very clear view of the rest of the galaxy. That's prevented us from studying many of the Milky Way's fundamental aspects, like whether it has two arms or four, how big it is, how fast it's moving, and whether we're someday going to ram headfirst into the Andromeda galaxy. Read More >>