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Huge gas cloud will hit Milky Way
BBC ^ | Saturday, 12 January 2008, 02:58 GMT | Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News, Austin

Posted on 01/12/2008 9:49:08 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach


The cosmic cloud is heading for us at more than 240km/s

A giant cloud of hydrogen gas is racing towards a collision with the Milky Way, astronomers have announced.

Smith's Cloud, as it is known, may set off spectacular fireworks when it smacks into our galaxy in 20-40 million years.

It contains enough hydrogen to make a million stars like the Sun, say experts, and its leading edge is already hitting gas from our galaxy.

When it does hit, the cloud could indeed set off a new burst of star formation in the Milky Way.

Details of the work, by a team at the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, were unveiled at the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas.

Impressive sight

Smith's Cloud is named after the astronomer who discovered it in 1963. But until now, astronomers had no idea whether it was leaving the Milky Way or falling into it.

The new work by a team using the Green Bank telescope (GBT) in West Virginia to observe the object shows, unmistakably, that the latter is true.

Smith's Cloud
Astronomers have taken detailed images of the cloud

Their new measurements also show that the cloud is 11,000 light-years long and 2,500 light-years wide. The monster cosmic "fog bank" is careering towards our galaxy at more than 240km/s (150 miles/s) and is set to strike the Milky Way at an angle of 45 degrees.

Broadly speaking, the cloud is currently rotating with our galaxy, but is also moving in towards it. Astronomers can see a wall of gas being ploughed up as Smith's Cloud thuds into the outskirts of our galaxy's atmosphere.

Lead author Dr Felix Lockman, from the NRAO, said the object, which lies at a distance of 40,000 light-years from Earth, would make an impressive sight if it could be seen with the naked eye.

"We don't know quite where it came from yet, as its orbit is a little confused, but we can tell it is beginning to interact with the outskirts of the Milky Way, that it is suffering drag and that bits of it are falling off," Dr Lockman told the BBC News website.

"But at the same time, it is feeling the gravitational pull of the Milky Way and is plunging in towards the disc."

By the time it merges with our galaxy, Smith's cloud will strike a region some distance from the location of our Solar System, about 90 degrees ahead of us in the disc of the Milky Way.

Celestial New Year

Where it does collide, the cloud will generate shockwaves in the gas already residing in the Milky Way.

"It will be just like letting a bomb go off," said Dr Lockman, "but you also create a lot of new gas which may have different properties to the existing gas.

The shockwaves will set off a tremendous burst of star formation. These stars will be massive, rushing through their lives quickly and exploding as supernova.

"Over a few million years, it'll look like a celestial New Year's celebration, with huge firecrackers going off in that region of the galaxy," said Dr Lockman.

Co-author Dr Robert Benjamin, from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, told BBC News: "If the drag is sufficient, and the cloud fragments, there could be less of an effect. But at the moment, it looks like it is holding together quite tightly."

Astronomers have previously surmised that a region of bright stars called Gould's Belt, which lies close to our own Sun, could have been created in just this way.

"This is the first time we're actually seeing it happen," said Dr Lockman.

"The Milky Way is still under bombardment - there are still fragments of it coming in and arriving on the scene. When this happens, it can bring fresh gas and trigger new star formation. And it's interesting to speculate whether this [once] happened near the Sun."

The gas cloud was discovered in 1963 by the young American astronomer Gail Smith working at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She subsequently left science but still lives in the Netherlands.

Paul.Rincon-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk



TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: catastrophism; milkyway
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1 posted on 01/12/2008 9:49:10 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: NormsRevenge; SunkenCiv; blam; Fred Nerks

We’re doomed!


2 posted on 01/12/2008 9:50:50 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

20-40 million years from now?

Guess I won’t change my vacation plans after all. ;-)
Lovely picture!


3 posted on 01/12/2008 9:53:46 AM PST by pillut48 (CJ in TX --Soccer Mom and proud Rush Conservative! WIN, FRED, WIN!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Smith's Cloud, as it is known, may set off spectacular fireworks when it smacks into our galaxy in 20-40 million years.

Nothing like getting out front on the breaking stories.
4 posted on 01/12/2008 9:53:51 AM PST by cripplecreek (Only one consistent conservative in this race and his name is Hunter.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Been wondering when these guys were going to show up and don't worry Admiral Hunter will handle everything.
5 posted on 01/12/2008 9:56:09 AM PST by Trueblackman (Terrorism and Liberalism never sleep and neither do I)
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To: cripplecreek
Well I did restrain myself from putting it in breaking news.
6 posted on 01/12/2008 9:56:20 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

We could have history’s longest live thread while we wait.


7 posted on 01/12/2008 9:57:27 AM PST by cripplecreek (Only one consistent conservative in this race and his name is Hunter.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

—I expect to be dead of bird flu by then—


8 posted on 01/12/2008 9:58:23 AM PST by rellimpank (--don't believe anything the MSM tells you about firearms or explosives--NRA Benefactor)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
It contains enough hydrogen to make a million stars like the Sun, say experts, and its leading edge is already hitting gas from our galaxy.

That does it, everybody stop eating beans right now.

9 posted on 01/12/2008 10:02:50 AM PST by xJones
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To: All
Related thread:

A Billion Stars Hiding in Milky Way

10 posted on 01/12/2008 10:03:05 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: KevinDavis

fyi


11 posted on 01/12/2008 10:04:18 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

End times alert?


12 posted on 01/12/2008 10:05:00 AM PST by Saundra Duffy (Romney Rocks!!!)
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To: cripplecreek

See link at post #10,...it’s long and is recent....


13 posted on 01/12/2008 10:05:24 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Saundra Duffy

I’m not going to say that.


14 posted on 01/12/2008 10:06:16 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: All
Somewhat related thread:

Baby Versions of Milky Way Spotted

15 posted on 01/12/2008 10:19:55 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I heard there’s a huge gas cloud around Uranus.


16 posted on 01/12/2008 10:28:41 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Somebody had to say it!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"when it smacks into our galaxy in 20-40 million years."

Is that before or after 2012?

17 posted on 01/12/2008 10:37:58 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

It won’t matter - AlGore said that the earth has another 10 years or so.


18 posted on 01/12/2008 10:49:54 AM PST by Bosco (Remember how you felt on September 11?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Party Time!!!


19 posted on 01/12/2008 10:54:18 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE’s toll-free tip hotline —1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRGeT)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

.......................team using the Green Bank telescope (GBT) in West Virginia ......................................

Gee, I was kinda glad that this facility wasn’t named the Robert Byrd Telescope!


20 posted on 01/12/2008 11:01:28 AM PST by aShepard (Who took those pictures, and who let them get into the hands of the MSM? Disgusting!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Like on Star Trek:TNG, they just need to inject some reactant element into the approaching cloud to ignite it, then everyone can get some sleep....


21 posted on 01/12/2008 11:09:34 AM PST by mikrofon (Space BUMP)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; All

It’s all Bush’s fault, you know...


22 posted on 01/12/2008 11:51:37 AM PST by JRios1968 (Don't mess with tigers, for you are crunchy and chewy...)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; To Hell With Poverty; 75thOVI; AFPhys; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; ...
Thanks Ernest_at_the_Beach and To Hell With Poverty. Gosh, I wonder where all the water comes from on planets- wh- this isn't a shower?
 
Catastrophism
 
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic ·

23 posted on 01/12/2008 12:09:08 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, December 30, 2007)
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the newer topic:

Cosmic Cloud on Collision Course
ScienceNOW Daily News | 11 January 2008 | Govert Schilling
Posted on 01/12/2008 2:20:45 PM EST by placerville
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1952655/posts


24 posted on 01/12/2008 12:19:34 PM PST by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________Profile updated Sunday, December 30, 2007)
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To: aShepard
Technically, it is named the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope.

He saved it from being shut down.

25 posted on 01/12/2008 12:56:29 PM PST by Calvin Locke
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To: Calvin Locke

..............Technically, it is named the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope.
He saved it from being shut down.
...........................

Aw Com’on, you’re kiddin’ me??


26 posted on 01/12/2008 1:23:14 PM PST by aShepard (Who took those pictures, and who let them get into the hands of the MSM? Disgusting!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
"Smith's Cloud, as it is known, may set off spectacular fireworks when it smacks into our galaxy in 20-40 million years."

Sorry, I can't wait. I have an appointment...

27 posted on 01/12/2008 1:24:19 PM PST by Swordmaker (We can fix this, but you're gonna need a butter knife, a roll of duct tape, and a car battery.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Damn Man Made Galactic Warming! Al Gore save us!


28 posted on 01/12/2008 1:28:26 PM PST by Repeal 16-17 (Let me know when the Shooting starts.)
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To: Trueblackman

Who needs Rick Hunter? Just play a tape of Minmei singing “To Be In Love...”


29 posted on 01/12/2008 2:08:26 PM PST by MikeD (We live in a world where babies are like velveteen rabbits that only become real if they are loved.)
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To: aShepard

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bank_Telescope


30 posted on 01/12/2008 2:43:09 PM PST by Cheburashka (Liberals: hapless pigeons being torn apart by FReeper falcons.)
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To: SunkenCiv
Gosh, I wonder where all the water comes from on planets-

hang on a sec, I've got a pic of that somewhere...

here 'tis:


31 posted on 01/12/2008 4:04:14 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: MikeD
"Just play a tape of Minmei singing “To Be In Love...”"

This?

32 posted on 01/12/2008 4:18:33 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

We can prevent this. All we need to do is write a check to Al Gore.


33 posted on 01/12/2008 4:21:55 PM PST by lowbridge
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To: blam; SunkenCiv; ForGod'sSake

once upon a long long time ago...when Earth was smaller, there were no oceans at all.

34 posted on 01/12/2008 4:26:26 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

Hmmmm. What shall I make of that picture?


35 posted on 01/12/2008 4:34:49 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Fred Nerks; blam

Must be that Expanding Earth thing again....LOL!


36 posted on 01/12/2008 4:38:42 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: blam
Hmmmm. What shall I make of that picture?

Interesting view without the water, (and sediment)isn't it?

37 posted on 01/12/2008 4:42:32 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
20-40 million years.

Couldn't they refine it a little more than that? Like, say, within a million years or so? How's a feller supposed to enter this in his appointment calendar?

38 posted on 01/12/2008 4:42:36 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Fred Nerks

We used to make maps of Alaska out of scrap from the 48” pipe when we worked at Prudhoe. Looked a lot like that piece of art.


39 posted on 01/12/2008 4:47:04 PM PST by RightWhale (Dean Koonz is good, but my favorite authors are Dun and Bradstreet)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

“Must be that Expanding Earth thing again....LOL!”

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/tecto.htm

Abstract. – This paper looks at the challenges confronting plate tectonics – the ruling paradigm in the earth sciences. The classical model of thin lithospheric plates moving over a global asthenosphere is shown to be implausible. Evidence is presented that appears to contradict continental drift, seafloor spreading and subduction, and the claim that the oceanic crust is relatively young. The problems posed by vertical tectonic movements are reviewed, including evidence for large areas of submerged continental crust in today’s oceans. It is concluded that the fundamental tenets of plate tectonics might be wrong.


40 posted on 01/12/2008 4:53:38 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: RightWhale
I know it's 'art' - the 'real thing' looks more like this...with the water. Is it really that much different?
41 posted on 01/12/2008 4:59:15 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

The vertical dimension of the surface features is vastly exaggerated, radius r or z axis or whatever. Makes the planet a lot lumpier than it really is.


42 posted on 01/12/2008 5:03:24 PM PST by RightWhale (Dean Koonz is good, but my favorite authors are Dun and Bradstreet)
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To: RightWhale
Arctic Exploration: Highlights and Mission Summaries August 14 - September 8, 2002.LINK.

The 24-day Arctic Expedition in the summer of 2002 focused on the deep and poorly understood Canada Basin. Click image for larger view.

43 posted on 01/12/2008 5:28:39 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: RightWhale
Highlights of Measuring the Physical Properties of the Deep Canada Basin. LINK.

The very deepest water is isolated from the rest of the Canada Basin and has likely been there for about 500 yrs. Hence, it is possible to detect the effects of geothermal heating from the sea floor. The bottom layer of water, which has a thickness of up to 1,000 m, is completely mixed, likely by convection from this heating. Small changes in temperature of this well-mixed layer will tell us, for example, how long this heating has been taking place (i.e., how long the water has been there), and whether the geothermal heat is remaining in the deep layer or escaping through the top. Our preliminary temperature measurements over the past decade indicate that most of the heat input is indeed escaping...

interesting observation?

44 posted on 01/12/2008 5:49:20 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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where did everybody go...?


45 posted on 01/12/2008 6:34:58 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

“Huge gas cloud will hit Milky Way”

Excuse me. Bad burrito.


46 posted on 01/12/2008 6:35:34 PM PST by Grunthor (The entire world will beg to bow before me, their charismatic despot.)
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To: Fred Nerks
Football game pulled me away...Patriots now up 21 -14 over Jacksonville...

New England Patriots are trying to keep their Perfect season going.

47 posted on 01/12/2008 7:00:13 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Hyzenthlay

ping


48 posted on 01/12/2008 7:09:54 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: ForGod'sSake

http://understandearth.com/Golden%20Goose.htm

About Peer Review...


49 posted on 01/12/2008 7:25:36 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
The monster cosmic "fog bank" is careering towards our galaxy...

At least its got a job now.

50 posted on 01/12/2008 10:49:46 PM PST by Rudder
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