December 7, 2003

Right here in our very neighborhood!

Just when Charlene and I were feeling a bit bored with our little patch of the galaxy, (and were about to conclude that the answer to the question "where are they?" is that we live in one of the "flyover" nebulae) there comes this...

....So, using infrared light, astronomers have just found a small galaxy of about a billion stars in the constellation Canis Major, that is, astonishingly, only about 25,000 light years away from the Sun. That's closer to us than the center of our own Milky Way! The Canis Major dwarf galaxy is not faring well in its gravitational battle with the Milky Way, and there are streamers of stars being pulled off the smaller galaxy onto the disk of our own.

Some of these cannibalized stars are drifting down to become part of the Milky Way's disk, and others are even heading in the direction of the Sun. It's a pretty weird thought that some of the stars around us may not come from our galaxy at all, but were pulled off the Canis Major dwarf galaxy many millions of years ago....

May I suggest we take all the money spent on Sociology and shift it to Astronomy?

(thanks to Craig Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at December 7, 2003 8:01 PM
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