We may be entering the year of 2015, but we cannot help but glance back to our previous year of astronomical discoveries. We are amazed by what we see. Based on scientific facts and the public’s interest, 10 stories stand out above all the rest!
1. Superclusters and our Milky Way
Astronomers used the GBT (Green Bank Telescope) and other similar radio telescopes measuring velocity, making it easier to pinpoint the Milky Way’s location in the universe. Masses of galaxies or Super clusters interconnect creating the many stars of the heavens. Our home, here on earth, is located in the cluster named Laniakea, or meaning “immense heaven” in Hawaiian. It seems our boundaries have been clarified, which links us to previously unrecognizable areas of the universe.
2. The lifeline in the GG Tau-A binary star system
One of the most fascinating discoveries of 2014 is the wheel within the wheel, located at the inner reaches of the GG Tau-A binary star system. A large disc of material surrounds an inner disc within the star system that revolves around the central star. It appears that life-sustaining material is being transferred from the outer to the inner wheel, thus keeping creation in motion. This astonishing discovery was detected by the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array).
3. Planet-forming rocks near the Orion Nebula
Apparently, gases in the Orion Nebula are teeming with planet-building “peebles”. It seems that these particles are 100-1,000 times larger than particles found near Protostars. This is substantial, simply because of the young age of this region, no matter how small these particles are — and they are pretty tiny. These findings are due to the astronomer’s use of the GBT telescope providing by NSF (National Science Foundation).
4. Discoveries below the surface of the Moon
A tag team effort was required in the discovery of the Serenity and the Aristillus Crater. Using the GBT telescope in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, a radar signal was transmitted, traveling below the surface of the moon. As the signal rebounded, it was collected at by the GBT telescope in West Virginia. This technique was the same one used to study asteroids and planets in the solar system.
5. Galaxy M82 and Starbursts
Using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), a radio image was created which revealed information about the 5200 light-years of creation of the M82 Galaxy. Ionized gases and fast moving electrons are captured in this radio emission. Within the bright mix, you see star-forming regions and supernovas, all colliding and creating debris from the explosions.
6. Understanding gravity by studying distant stars
Astronomers have discovered a very unique star system comprised of two white dwarf stars and a dense neutron star. What is so amazing about this triad is how close they are to each other. In fact, they are packed into a space closer than the distance from earth to the sun. This closeness has allowed scientists to study gravitational effects in a whole new way. The studies within this star system can even provide solutions to problems with our fundamental “mis”-understandings of physics.
7. The distance to Pleiades
A withstanding controversy surrounding the distance to Pleiades has been resolved. Recently a discovery suggested the distance to be 443 light years away, which has been proven to be within one percent of accuracy. This is much more precise than previous measurements.
8. Coldest, dimmest white dwarf star
What is so remarkable about the discovery of a certain white dwarf star is its detectability. We know that many cold and dim dwarf stars exist, but we just cannot find them. This white dwarf star has been so distant and cold that it has crystalized. With the help of three important tools, the GBT (Green Bank Telescope), NRAO (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) and the VLBA (Very Long Base Array), a team of astronomers were able to identify this unique earth sized diamond.
9. Young star with Pluto-sized orbiting planets
Astronomers recently discovered many Pluto-sized objects and dust surrounding an adolescent star. As this new system was observed, scientists noticed a marked increase in dust congregating within the disc surrounding the heavenly bodies. In other words, an accelerated system seems to be on the rise surrounding the distant star, HD 107146.
10. ALMA reveals best evidence of the birth of planets
The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array), in its most recent detection of planet formation, has provided the best image yet of this process. What makes the incident stand out from the rest is the young age of the star involved in the system’s formation. The sun-like star, HL Tau, and surrounding planetary particles, which are 450 light years away from our solar system, provide the most astonishing detail ever captured by astronomers.
The year 2014 has brought earth-shaking evidence of just how infinite the universe must be. Now, in the year 2015, we can only expect to delve a little deeper and go a bit further into the unknown. What a glorious adventure awaits!