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Newly-Discovered Arm of Milky Way Gives Warped Structure

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the lemme-tell-you-about-warped dept.

Space 81

eldavojohn writes "Researchers are now suggesting that a newly-discovered arm of the Milky Way Galaxy gives it a warped structure. Accumulated evidence leads them to claim that an 18-kpc-long arm exists on the other side of the galaxy and this arm traverses some 50 degrees across our sky as an extension of the Scutum-Centaurus Arm (which is one of the two major arms of our galaxy, the other being the Perseus Arm that we can see much more clearly). The researchers conclude that this extension of the Scutum-Centaurus Arm is partially obscured behind the middle of our galaxy because our galaxy is warped 'like the cap from a freshly-opened beer bottle.'"

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81 comments

Thanks for the Beer analogy. (-1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141214)

I wasn't sure if you meant warped as in sense of humor, or the verb. Now that I know it refers more to the effect of bottle openers on beer caps, I totally get it!

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141330)

Bottle caps... is there anything they can't explain?

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141358)

Goddamn you Elop! Goodbye, Nokia [engadget.com] :(

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (0)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141504)

I used a twist cap so it is of no help to me, you insensitive clod!

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (0)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141540)

That analogy, and the explanation, were free (as in beer).

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142766)

That analogy, and the explanation, were free (as in beer).

I disagree - CmdrTaco modded me down a point for snarking his analogy!

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (0)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141590)

They should have said "milk bottle" though, it would have fit better.

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142058)

It just left me more confused. Why only a "freshly opened" beer bottle? Are they using bottle caps which change shape over time after being removed?

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142160)

I'm still having a problem visualizing this. What kind of tool was used to open the bottle? If you use a lighter then it looks like new, snaps back on fairly tight in most cases. :p

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142210)

But only a cap from a freshly-opened beer bottle. Otherwise the analogy doesn't work!

Re:Thanks for the Beer analogy. (1)

darkgrayknight (1679662) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142400)

obviously they were busy drinking a freshly opened bottle of beer when they came up with the analogy with their thoughts on freshly opened beer.

beer cap? (-1, Redundant)

berashith (222128) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141218)

That is a lot of beer

Re:beer cap? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142230)

It may be a large cap. But the container could be shallow asymptotic approaching 0. So in theory it may not be much more then a normal bottle.

Who decided? (4, Funny)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141224)

Who decided that these are arms? Could they not be legs? What about just appendages? Maybe what we call arms are really the Milky Way's hair. If that were the case it might just throw all of our understanding of cosmology out the proverbial window.

Re:Who decided? (4, Interesting)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141266)

Tentacles.

Re:Who decided? (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141360)

What's next? Galaxy porn?

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141426)

Hey, why not?
I think I could get it off to some galactic-sized sexy times.

Oh yes, capture that young galaxy, that's it, oooo baby look at all those stars flying through space.

Re:Who decided? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141464)

Well, it's already warped...

Re:Who decided? (1)

GeekZilla (398185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141604)

Well, I initially read the summary as, "...SCROTUM-Centaurus Arm..." so we may not be too far off.

Or maybe I watch too much sci-fi porn.

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141940)

Or maybe I watch too much sci-fi porn.

Links, please?

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36145198)

Great, now I'm thinking about centaur scrotum. Do you think they have man-scrotums or horse-scrotums?

Re:Who decided? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141624)

Rule 34 on Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Re:Who decided? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#36144566)

If you are patient enough to wait for some 3 to 4 bilion of years...

Didn't he say "Scrotum-Centaurus" arm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141488)

Probably looks like a baby's arm holding an apple.

Re:Who decided? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141654)

I believe you mean penes.

Re:Who decided? (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141720)

I believe you mean noodly appendages

Re:Who decided? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142804)

Noodly appendages.

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141278)

Could they not be legs? What about just appendages? Maybe what we call arms are really the Milky Way's hair.

No, they are His noodles!

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141298)

FSM approves the use of "the milky way's appendages".

Re:Who decided? (4, Informative)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141480)

The word "arm" conveys several meanings, one of which is branch or division.

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141622)

With a name like Scrotum-Centaurus, I'd think they'd call it a penis.

Re:Who decided? (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142342)

our galaxy is warped 'like the cap from a freshly-opened beer bottle.'"

because the cap of a beer bottle after it's been drained unwarps and returns to its unopened shape?

or given it's the Milky Way, like the cap of a freshly-opened milk bottle?

Re:Who decided? (1)

zorro-z (1423959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142802)

Spaghetti. Definitely spaghetti. A great big, monstrous flying bunch of spaghetti.

Re:Who decided? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143330)

Who decided that these are arms? Could they not be legs? What about just appendages?

Well, they are kind of noodley.

Re:Who decided? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36145942)

And who decided to call it a milky-way?
It's more like a gassy-dusty-way. Kinda like a fart. A warped fart.

Yeah. It should be the fart-way.

Re:Who decided? (1)

skywiseguy (1347553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148986)

Maybe what we call arms are really the Milky Way's hair. If that were the case it might just throw all of our understanding of cosmology out the proverbial window.

no, you're thinking of cosmetology....

So it must be it! (0)

spaceplanesfan (2120596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141258)

Our galaxy is the warp drive!
Now wait till I'll start my hyperdrive....
See you

those aren't arms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141284)

those are his noodly appendages. prepare to be touched by them.

Warped Galaxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141294)

Of course it is a warped galaxy, humans evolved in it.

Pics! (3, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141300)

Needs an artists rendition, the second most important thing in astronomy.

HAHA!! GOTCHA!!! (0)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141310)

Successful in hiding for only so long... YOU Can't Hide from me FOREVER!!!

kpc = kiloparsec (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141336)

The original article also does not bother to define "kpc." Not being an astronomer, I guessed kiloparsec, but I wasn't sure.

kpc = kiloparsec
1 parsec = 3.26163626 light years according to google's internal unit converter, which, "if my calculations are correct" means 18 kiloparsecs = 58,709.45268 light years.

Re:kpc = kiloparsec (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141532)

The original article also does not bother to define "kpc." Not being an astronomer, I guessed kiloparsec, but I wasn't sure.

kpc = kiloparsec 1 parsec = 3.26163626 light years according to google's internal unit converter, which, "if my calculations are correct" means 18 kiloparsecs = 58,709.45268 light years.

That was my guess, KiloParsecs, which I roughly equated to 3 light years, or 45,000 light years.

I suppose it's really closer to 50,000. I'm sure I would have checked before gassing up for the trip.

Re:kpc = kiloparsec (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141576)

I guessed the same thing, being a Star Wars fan. I thought "wow that's way longer than the Kessel run."

New arm (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141354)

I bet the new arm has Geth.

Hurf hurf (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141356)

yeah spaghetti monster or whatever the fuck..

I remember when smart people posted on slashdot.

Can anyone provide any insight as to how physics would allow this? A near miss with another galaxy, or very dense object? A wandering black hole scooching by and "warping" it? Must take a lot of energy to warp a galaxy.

Re:Hurf hurf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141456)

Or it was just created that way... /troll

Re:Hurf hurf (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141556)

feng shui

Re:Hurf hurf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141718)

I remember when smart people posted on slashdot.

And dammit! Get off my lawn!

Re:Hurf hurf (2)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142484)

Can anyone provide any insight as to how physics would allow this? A near miss with another galaxy, or very dense object? A wandering black hole scooching by and "warping" it? Must take a lot of energy to warp a galaxy.

IANAAP, but a collision with another galaxy, such as the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, perhaps.

http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~mfs4n/sgr/ [virginia.edu]
(videos at the bottom should provide more than enough detail)

Looks a lot like NGC 1365 (5, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141380)

This barred-spiral structure makes the Milky Way look a lot like NGC 1365.
Here is what it might look like:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phot-08a-99-hires.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:Looks a lot like NGC 1365 (1, Funny)

HtR (240250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141746)

I don't remember the NGC 1365. Who was it's captain and which series and episode did it appear in?

Re:Looks a lot like NGC 1365 (1)

arbies (1222718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141950)

That comment made my day.. thank you..

I think it was 'The Immunity Syndrome' (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142102)

"Captain's Personal Log, Stardate 4309.2. We have established that the thing which destroyed the USS Intrepid and the NGC 1365 system is an incredibly huge but simple cellular being whose energies are totally destructive to all known life."

Pastafarians rejoice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141420)

Truly may his noodly appendage touch you as it twists throughout our known galaxy.

warped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36141664)

I always suspected there was something fundamentally wrong with the galaxy.....

3-dimensional accetion disk? (2)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141690)

I have still not gotten a good explanation why galaxies aren't thought of as large accretion disks, since there is a large black hole (or more than one) at the center of almost every galaxy.

The article here seems to indicate that what we're seeing might be the equivalent of a 3 dimensional accretion "disk" wherein the center "drains" along the poles.

Re:3-dimensional accetion disk? (4, Informative)

popoutman (189497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142120)

In an accretion disk the majority of matter is a small amount of interaction with other matter in the disk before it ends up close to or past the event horizon, and matter accretes from outside the disk to end up in the disk.
In a galaxy, the vast majority of the matter in orbit is extremely unlikely to end up anywhere near the galaxy centre, and matter does not accrete in any significant volume (excluding galaxy mergers and collisions).
Of course, both a genuine accretion disk and a galaxy are effects of matter in a gravity well....

helix, not spiral? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142990)

I'm so used to hearing of "spiral" galaxies and other 2D shapes it's easy to overlook the 3rd dimension. A hurricane is a 2D spiral on a curved surface. Our solar system has a distinct plane. What I've read is that the solar system started as a large amorphous blob that through gravity condensed into a small area, and by conservation of angular momentum, changed whatever small random spin it began with into enough of a force to make the material spread back out, but this time along the equator of the spin, as a disk that eventually birthed planets and moons.

Does this disk formation process scale up from solar system to galactic sizes? Are methods of galaxy formation even all that close to solar system formation? Maybe many of what appear to be spiral galaxies are actually helixes? Possibly very shallow helixes, easy to mistake as spiral? Seems very unlikely that if the Milky Way is a helix, all the other "spiral" galaxies we see really are spirals.

How about an experiment? What formation would you see if you have a cube or sphere of material (liquid or gas) in micro gravity, and you drain the matter through a straw with one end positioned at the center?

His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.

-- Spock, Star Trek II, the Wrath of Khan.

Re:3-dimensional accetion disk? (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36147536)

In a galaxy, the vast majority of the matter in orbit is extremely unlikely to end up anywhere near the galaxy centre, and matter does not accrete in any significant volume (excluding galaxy mergers and collisions).

Is this the case? Perhaps since we've only seen a few frames of the reel (we've only been gazing at the stars with telescopes for a few centuries while the galaxy and universe is billions of years old), we don't really know. IANA Physicist / Cosmologist, but I wouldn't mind a take from someone who has pondered the question and can bring facts to bear.

Re:3-dimensional accetion disk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36150936)

it's more complicated than that.

Funny how it's easier to see other galaxies (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141760)

than the shape of our own galaxy. I wonder if there's a large space mirror somewhere we can catch a reflection of our galaxy.

Re:Funny how it's easier to see other galaxies (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141814)

Assuming our universe is the 3-dimensional surface of a 4-sphere, then yes -- just wait long enough, and photons from our galaxy will come zinging back from every direction in the sky. Of course, our sun will have burned out long before then, so we'll probably cease to care...

Re:Funny how it's easier to see other galaxies (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146626)

Assuming our universe is the 3-dimensional surface of a 4-sphere, then yes -- just wait long enough, and photons from our galaxy will come zinging back from every direction in the sky.

Given the accelerated expansion of the universe, they won't.

And this... (2)

chaodyn (1313729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141978)

"And this, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped."

New Arm of Milky Way Gives Warped Structure (1)

arbies (1222718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141998)

Arthur Dent, "I've always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe."

Re:New Arm of Milky Way Gives Warped Structure (1)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | more than 3 years ago | (#36155512)

Arthur Dent, "I've always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the universe."

It's still mostly armless.

Application: Research Assistant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142304)

For some time now I have been an expert on the curvature of caps from freshly-opened beer bottles. References available upon request.

Warped galaxy (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142440)

Does this alter where the galactic plane is, and the date at which the earth will pass through it (ie the end of the world on Dec 21 , 2012)

If the Mayans didn't know about this their predictions may be wrong.

Re:Warped galaxy (1)

bvimo (780026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143270)

The interference from the new discovered noodly appendage has moved the Earth end date (or rapture) to 21st May 2011.

PS carry a towel with you, just in case

Milk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36142636)

There ain't no milk today, it wasn't always so, the company was gay, they turned night into day...

Sorry Peter...

...like the cap from a freshly-opened beer bottle. (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142664)

Now hand me a 'nuther beer. *hic*

Re:...like the cap from a freshly-opened beer bott (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146676)

Now hand me a 'nuther beer. *hic*

Seriously though, I guess they outright ignored the twist off variety of bottle caps.

Is it now? (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36142936)

Or is it just the light bending around the massive galactic center that makes it look warped from our perspective?

pretty sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36143826)

pretty sure people who do astronomy researchers know enough to take things like this into consideration.

it's all about perspective.

Re:Is it now? (2)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36145258)

It's a lot like a warped record. As the stars rotate past the Magellanic Clouds, the rest of the stars in the arm slowly shift and warp as they pass it. Then settle down and get flat again. Of course, this takes about 100,000 years or so, so we don't notice it happening.

Well, it is good that we figure this out before we start to someday send ships all around the place. Sure, we can maybe design a warp drive some day, but without an accurate map, we're boned.

Matter of perspective (2)

laing (303349) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143148)

From our vantage our galaxy may appear to be more distorted than it would appear to be from outside.

Light travels rather slowly considering the scale of our local group of galaxies.

We live in the boonies (1)

kyle5t (1479639) | more than 3 years ago | (#36143934)

"The growing consensus is that the Milky Way has a central bar with two main arms, called the Perseus Arm, which passes with a few kiloparsecs of the Sun, and the Scutum-Centaurus Arm. (The other arms are now thought to be minor structures made up largely of gas.)"

As a resident of the Orion Spur, I resent that statement.

Cap from freshly opened beer bottle? (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148732)

I think I need to hit the cellar, grab some bottles and start experimenting.

beer bottle (1)

jon.siebert1 (2146474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36152302)

havent had a drink in 6 days, killin me with the analogy!
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