Image courtesy of NASA via spacetoday
A big conundrum in astronomy and cosmology over the last ten years has been the ‘Missing Dwarf Galaxy’ Problem. Dwarf Galaxies are much smaller than normal galaxies and though this makes them fainter and harder to find, astronomers have still been finding far fewer than predicted. The prediction comes from the ‘Cold Dark Matter’ model. Dark matter, which is thought to make up around 22% of all substance in the universe compared to about 2-5% of the matter we can see, forms in distinct ‘halos’, in which real galaxies form. (The remaining 74% of energy density is the mysterious dark energy, responsible for the expansion of the universe.)
By studying the distribution of these dark matter halos, astronomers predicted that a large galaxy such as our own Milky Way should have a hundred or so smaller dwarf satellites. The problem is, until very recently only a handful had been seen. A lot of these could have no visible stars and it was difficult to see a way to detect them. Until now. Two astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii think they may have found a load more, possibly solving one of the biggest questions in our study of the stars.
Incidentally, the name for a galaxy smaller than a dwarf class is known as a hobbit galaxy. [via science daily]
Choosing a big story to kick off with was pretty easy. This week, it was announced that the famous Northwest Passage is open for the first time since records began. The Passage, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans along the coast of Canada, has always been impenetrable due to high levels of ice.
Now for the first time even boats with fibreglass hulls are able to make the journey, opening a major trade route. With the possibility that the Northeast Passage across the Arctic near Russia might soon be open too, expect a grand old tussle for the rights for the oil and gas previously hidden beneath the frozen depths. The unexpectedly fast melting is possibly due to a couple of feedback systems – the release of methane as permafrost melts and the albedo effect. As the average global temperature rises, the temperature of the Arctic is expected to increase by two or three times as much. [image courtesy of wikipedia commons.]
Greetings. My name is Tomas L. Martin, one of the new faces here at Futurismic. I’m a writer and physics student from Bristol, England. I’ve been writing book reviews for SFCrowsnest for years now and if I link to a book I’ve been enjoying, I’ll probably include a link to my review. My short story ‘A Shogun’s Welcome’ featured in Aberrant Dreams #7 and a semi-sequel, ‘The Shogun and The Scientist’ will be out in the anthology The Awakening this January.
Anyone interested in reading my fictional work today could do worse than read miawithoutoil, my fictional blog for the World Without Oil project, in which every day of May this year documented a week of a global oil crisis.
On this blog I hope to produce many posts that will pique the interest of readers. In this strange world, I’m especially interested in some of the major changes happening before our eyes so expect a few entries on climate change, alternative energy and peak oil as well as any other cool stuff I come across on my web travels.