Astronomers Report Unprecedented Double Helix Nebula Near Center of the Milky Way

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Astronomers Report Unprecedented Double Helix Nebula Near Center of the Milky Way

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Astronomers report an unprecedented elongated double helix nebula near the center of our Milky Way galaxy, using observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The part of the nebula the astronomers observed stretches 80 light years in length. The research is published March 16 in the journal Nature.

"We see two intertwining strands wrapped around each other as in a DNA molecule," said Mark Morris, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, and lead author. "Nobody has ever seen anything like that before in the cosmic realm. Most nebulae are either spiral galaxies full of stars or formless amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas space weather. What we see indicates a high degree of order."

The double helix nebula is approximately 300 light years from the enormous black hole at the center of the Milky Way. (The Earth is more than 25,000 light years from the black hole at the galactic center.)

The Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared telescope, is imaging the sky at unprecedented sensitivity and resolution; Spitzer's sensitivity and spatial resolution were required to see the double helix nebula clearly.

"We know the galactic center has a strong magnetic field that is highly ordered and that the magnetic field lines are oriented perpendicular to the plane of the galaxy," Morris said. "If you take these magnetic field lines and twist them at their base, that sends what is called a torsional wave up the magnetic field lines.

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How will the magnetism effect earth if its a thousand times stronger then our sun? Remember we are moving towards the galactic center.

The Galactic Center - A Wide-Field, Low-Frequency Image - http://rsd-www.nrl.navy.mil...

galacticcenter.jpg - 40.39kb
By YCON: posted on 18-3-2006








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