This amazing video (click image to play) shows the motions of the stars at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. As you can see, there is no visual object at the center that they appear to be orbiting around. In fact, they are orbiting around a supermassive black hole. We can deduce the properties of this black hole from the speed and shape of their orbits. Only something very, very massive could account for the highly elliptical orbits you see at the center here.
The movie begins in 1893 and plays through to the present, zooming out from the galactic center along our line-of-sight. The field of view at the start spans a distance of approximately 1.5 light years and expands to show orbits out to 20 light years across. The colors of the stars represent stellar ages: green are young, orange are old, and magenta ones are unknown. The length of the tail behind a given star shows how far it travels in a 15-20 year time span.
This animation was created by Professor Andrea Ghez and her research team at UCLA and are from data sets obtained with the W. M. Keck Telescopes and in collaboration with the University of Illinois NCSA Advanced Visualization Library.
And now for some more revelatory geek:
- Space flight is awesome and all, but it wreaks havoc on your body.
- Sci-fi geeks: interactive graphic pitting the most famous space ships against each other in an interstellar race across the Universe.
- Think gardening is hard work, try growing one on nano scales. These structures are all less than the width of a human hair.
- Number geeks: this fantastic browser extension converts extremely large numbers on the Internet into more graspable concepts.
- If you've ever wondered what it might be like to be ea, wonder no more. Bonus footage of grizzlies on the prowl. [VIDEO]
- Linguistics geeks: where does the New York City accent come from? We may never fully know. [VIDEO]
- An unmanned passenger plane flew from England to Scotland last month. Your next pilot may be a robot.
Have a great and geeky week. @Summer_Ash