Artist impression of the hidden galaxies // ICRAR
Artist impression of the hidden galaxies // ICRAR

Astronomers Discover 883 Hidden Galaxies Behind the Milky Way

Artist impression of the hidden galaxies // ICRAR
Artist impression of the hidden galaxies // ICRAR

All this time that we've been marveling at our own galaxy, we've been blind to a much more impressive discovery that exists behind our cosmic back. Using CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope fitted with a new receiver, an international team of astronomers were able to find hundreds of galaxies, located only 250 million light-years away on the other side of the Milky Way.

According to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), one-third of the 883 galaxies had never been seen before. The galaxies are located in a region of space known as the Zone of Avoidance and were previously shielded from telescopes because of the Milky Way's stars and dust.

The discovery of the galaxies will lead to more revelations in the future. Discovery News reports that ICRAR's Lister Staveley-Smith and the other scientists are studying the gravitational anomaly in space called the Great Attractor that is pulling on our galaxy—and hundreds of thousands of others—with the gravitational force of a million billion Suns. Finding these hidden galaxies may help solve that decades-old mystery.

"We know that in this region there are a few very large collections of galaxies we call clusters or superclusters," Staveley-Smith said, "and our whole Milky Way is moving towards them at more than 2 million kilometers per hour."

So how did scientist discover the galaxies? One of Staveley-Smith's collaborators on the study, Renée Kraan-Korteweg, of the University of Cape Town, explained that they used a radio telescope to pick up radio waves from the galaxies, which unlike optical wavelengths are able to permeate our galaxy's thick dust. 

ICRAR created an animation (below) to illustrate where the galaxies were found in relation to our planet. Check it out, then head to ICRAR for more about the big discovery.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The Fascinating Device Astronauts Use to Weigh Themselves in Space

Most every scale on Earth, from the kind bakers use to measure ingredients to those doctors use to weigh patients, depends on gravity to function. Weight, after all, is just the mass of an object times the acceleration of gravity that’s pushing it toward Earth. That means astronauts have to use unconventional tools when recording changes to their bodies in space, as SciShow explains in the video below.

While weight as we know it technically doesn’t exist in zero-gravity conditions, mass does. Living in space can have drastic effects on a person’s body, and measuring mass is one way to keep track of these changes.

In place of a scale, NASA astronauts use something called a Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) to “weigh” themselves. Once they mount the pogo stick-like contraption it moves them a meter using a built-in spring. Heavier passengers take longer to drag, while a SLAMMD with no passenger at all takes the least time to move. Using the amount of time it takes to cover a meter, the machine can calculate the mass of the person riding it.

Measuring weight isn’t the only everyday activity that’s complicated in space. Astronauts have been forced to develop clever ways to brush their teeth, clip their nails, and even sleep without gravity.

[h/t SciShow]

Watch Astronauts Assemble Pizza in Space

Most everyone enjoys a good pizza party: Even astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

As this video from NASA shows, assembling pizza in zero gravity is not only possible, it also has delicious results. The inspiration for the pizza feast came from Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut who was craving one of his home country’s national dishes while working on the ISS. NASA’s program manager for the space station, Kirk Shireman, sympathized with his colleague and ordered pizzas to be delivered to the station.

NASA took a little longer responding to the request than your typical corner pizzeria might. The pizzas were delivered via the Orbital ATK capsule, and once they arrived, the ingredients had to be assembled by hand. The components didn’t differ too much from regular pizzas on Earth: Flatbread, tomato sauce, and cheese served as the base, and pepperoni, pesto, olives, and anchovy paste made up the toppings. Before heating them up, the astronauts had some fun with their creations, twirling them around like "flying saucers of the edible kind,” according to astronaut Randy Bresnik.

In case the pizza party wasn’t already a success, it also coincided with movie night on the International Space Station.

[h/t KHQ Q6]


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