Our spiral arm of the Milky Way is bulkier than thought

A new map of the Milky Way shows that the spiral arm that contains our solar system is much larger than previously believed.

New Scientist reports that a group of scientists from the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing, China discovered evidence that our Milky Way neighborhood is just as bulky as comparable areas elsewhere in the galaxy.

The solar system has been thought to be located in the spiral structure called the Local Arm, or the Orion Spur, which scientists have believed is much smaller than the neighboring Perseus Arm.  Other Milky Way appendages are as bulky as the Perseus Arm, and even those which are sporting fewer stars make up for the lesser star count by containing as much gas as the largest arms.

The solar system’s home arm is now looking like it can keep up in the arm size race thanks to a new comprehensive study of the galaxy’s form.

The research team collected data using the Very Long Baseline Array in New Mexico to map the high-mass clouds in the spiral arms.  The team also calculated the clouds’ distances.

“Radio telescopes can ‘see’ through the galactic plane to massive star forming regions that trace spiral structure, while optical wavelengths will be hidden by dust,” Ye Zu of the Purple Mountain Observatory said.

The mapping project revealed a Milky Way that does not have well-defined arms, but rather a number of spiral structures with branches and small spurs.

The so-called Orion Spur in which Earth resides turns out to not be a spur after all, but more like one of the Milky Way’s huge spiral arms.  A spur was also found to connect the Local Arm with the large Sagittarius Arm.

“This lane has received little attention in the past because it does not correspond with any of the major spiral arm features of the inner galaxy,” the study authors wrote.

Further efforts are underway to better map our galaxy, including a 3D mapping project with the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.


Sam Allardyce sacked after only one game

Big Sam is a legend in the game, with trophies both as a player and as a manager. With the English current crop of players, his style of play was hailed as one that would utilize their strengths. However, His tenure ended after only one game after some scrupulous comments about the transfer market and agents.

The Telegraph carried out some solid investigative journalism and caught him on camera making these comments. The English FA insist that he did not break the law by what he said. Their concern had a man who could attar such things at the helm of English football.

Sam resigned after only 12 hrs of the Telegraph airing this story. “The issue for us was one of our employee’s behaviors and whether he could carry on as England manager having said some of the things he said on television,” said FA chairman Greg Clarke. “I don’t know whether he has broken any rules or not because the FA disciplinary department will investigate. But, he admitted that his behavior was foolish and put his position in jeopardy.”

Allardyce will go down in history as the shortest-serving English manager, and the only other manager sacked during qualifiers. The under 21 manager Gareth Southgate to coach the team as the interim manager.

The Role has proved difficult as no manager has lived up to the expectation of the crop of players dubbed the “golden age.” The team has continuously fallen flat in the biggest stages. The FA and English fans were hoping that Big Sam would go back to the basics like he often does with his team and bring the best out of the team.


World’s largest radio telescope goes online

The largest radio telescope in the world, located in China’s Guizhou Province, is commencing operations.

Sky and Telescope reports that the enormous telescope, called the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), is up and running.  FAST sports a 500-meter-wide radio collection dish, making it the largest filled-in single-dish telescope ever constructed.

FAST’s dish, which is equivalent in size to 30 soccer fields, affords the telescope a collecting area of 70,000 square meters.  The telescope was built in an area surrounded by mountains in order to block as much radio interference as possible.  To further cut down on interference, China relocated over 9,000 people from surrounding villages while constructing the telescope.

Construction began in 2011 and required the placement of 4,450 reflecting panels to complete the giant dish.  The panels are connected to actuators which are used to fine-tune the panels’ positions to maintain the overall dish shape and achieve maximum focus.

FAST is expected to collect a vast amount of data, to the tune of around three petabytes every year.

“This system is already being used by a whole suite of observatories around the world,” Andreas Wicenec of the University of Western Australia said. “During the last few years, the software has been significantly upgraded to support very large data streams like the ones coming out of Square Kilometer Array precursors.”

Once fully tested and proven to be properly functioning, FAST will become available to international science teams looking to collect data on radio signals from distant space.

“As soon as the telescope works normally, the Time Allocation Committee (TAC) will distribute observation time according to the scientific value of the proposals. Proposals from foreign scientists will be accepted as well.  There will also be foreigners on the TAC,” Nan Rendong of FAST said.

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Cheryl Burke talks about helping Ryan Lochte dance

Dancing with the Stars pro, Cheryl Burke, shared how she prepares Ryan Lochte for performance day.

Burke and Lochte are now in jeopardy of being voted off of the show. This doesn’t seem to bother Burke, who joined DWTS in 2006.

“Looking back on Monday’s dance, I really think that Ryan did an amazing job considering all of the drama that’s been happening, Being in the bottom two will hopefully have people vote for us more,” said Burke, who has been blogging during the show for PEOPLE. “I’ve been in jeopardy a lot and I think that it kind of helps. It makes people realize they need to start voting!”

Burke also discussed what she does to help Lochte when he feels overwhelmed with nerves. Lochte was very intense over possibly being voted off.

“I think Ryan was very affected by [the possibility of being voted off],” remarked Burke. “He was shaking and said to me, ‘My legs are shaking. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ All day I felt his energy because I knew that he thought that he was going to be the one going home, so I think he’s thankful and grateful for everyone who voted. He really isn’t ready to go home yet – he’s put in a lot of time and heart into the show, and he really deserves people giving him a chance. And because of the love and support that we’ve gotten from the dancers, celebrities and crew, I really think he has now moved past it.”


Hubble captures death explosion of sun-like star

When stars like our sun enter their final death throes, the resulting explosions can be spectacular.

NASA posted a photo on Friday of one such explosion which features the energetic demise of a star in a nebula called NGC 2440.  The image, captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the star throwing off its outer gas layers.  The gas had been closely surrounding the star’s remaining core before its final burst of destructive energy.

The gas is aglow due to the ultraviolet radiation given off by the dying star.  The star at the heart of NGC 2440 is now classified as a white dwarf, having burned down to a small size.  The Earth’s sun will suffer a similar fate in another five billion years or so.

NGC 2440’s glowing cloud of gas is the type of stellar phenomenon known as a planetary nebula, although, despite its name, it has nothing to do with planets.  Planetary nebulae got their name from astronomers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who thought the nebulae resembled the disks surrounding Uranus and Neptune as seen through early telescopes.

The white dwarf sitting at the center of the NGC 2440 nebula is one of the hottest ever found.  The star’s surface temperature can reach over 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The nebula surrounding the star has an irregular shape, suggesting that the star shed its gas in stages and in various directions.  The overall appearance of the nebula is that of a two-lobed “bowtie” shape.

The gas can be seen glowing with different colors based on the composition of the gas in each area of the nebula, as well as the density of the gas and how close it lies to the scorching white dwarf.  A blue hue in the gas cloud indicates the presence of helium, blue-green indicates oxygen, and red reveals the presence of nitrogen and hydrogen.

In addition to the illuminated gas, the nebula contains a substantial amount of dust, which can be seen forming long, dark streaks radiating outward from the star.

The Milky Way Galaxy is loaded with such nebulae, marking the death sites of numerous sun-like stars.  The star of Hubble’s new photo, NGC 2440, lies around 4,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Puppis.


Family source defends Brad Pitt as great parent

A source close to the family is defending the parenting skills of Brad Pitt.

Hollywood stars, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, are going through a high profile divorce just after their two year wedding anniversary. They had been together for 12 years and have six children together. Jolie filed for divorce and due to testimony there is now an investigation into Pitt for claims of child abuse.

“He is one of the best dads I have ever known, ” claimed a source in an interview with PEOPLE. The source is close to both Jolie and Pitt and has known their children for several years. “He’s very good at keeping things calm and telling them how they should be behaving, reminding them to be kind, to be respectful to each other. He has always been there for the kids.”

“He does care so much about the kids and he cares about them having structure and routine, but that is because he is wonderful dad,” continued the family source. “I have never heard him or seen him being pushy or hurting them, or being too tough with them, at all.”

Pitt has been accused of being “verbally abusive” and “physical” with their oldest child, Maddox. The incident in question occurred on a private plane owned by the couple, said another source to PEOPLE. The Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services launched an investigation into the incident after the abuse was reported last Wednesday.


Mystery of glowing space ‘blob’ may be solved

A number of humongous glowing space “blobs” have puzzled scientists for years, but now the source of their enigmatic glow may be revealed.

According to NPR, the space blob under recent study was first spotted in the late 1990s and appeared to be a gigantic cloud of glowing hydrogen gas.  Other such blobs were discovered, many around ten times as large as the Milky Way.

Astronomers dubbed the massive, bright objects “Lyman-alpha blobs,” after the wavelengths they emitted and with the use of the word “blob” as a touch of humor — “like the blob from outer space or something like that,” as Chuck Steidel of Caltech explained.

The primary mystery surrounding the huge objects was the fact that they glowed with no obvious light source.

In a new study, researchers took a deeper look into one of the largest blobs using the ALMA telescope in Chile.  There they were able to identify two large galaxies hidden within the enormous gas cloud.  The galaxies had been previously obscured from view due to the large amount of dust surrounding them.

The galaxies are creating new stars at a fast pace, each producing the equivalent of 100 suns every year.  The intense light generated by the galaxies is lighting up the surrounding gas.

The researchers equate the effect with the kind of light scattering that happens around a streetlight in foggy weather.

“You see a sort of halo around the streetlight because the light from the central streetlight is scattering off water droplets in the fog,” Jim Geach of the University of Hertfordshire said.  “It’s kind of analogous to what we’re seeing with these Lyman-alpha blobs.”

The discovery of the source of one blob’s light suggests that other such glowing space blobs are likely lit up by similar means.

“It’s too early to say that this is going to end up being typical, but it’s pretty interesting,” Steidel says. “It’s nice to see that one’s gut feeling turns out to be supported by something other than speculation.”

The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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Scientists find cause of latest Ebola outbreak

Sexual intercourse may have caused the latest pandemic in West Africa of the Ebola virus. Subject Zero is thought to be a man who recovered from the virus almost 15 months before spreading the virus to a woman.

It is now believed that the Ebola Virus can stay in semen for longer than a year. This time, eclipse the previous estimation of three months. Researchers claim that after the man infected the lady through his semen. West Africa suffered the worst Ebola attack in recent history.

In Ghana at least 28000 victims recovered while countless others died. Ebola spreads through body fluids such as blood and sweat. Though not common, semen may also spread the disease even after a full recovery by the victim. “Before this outbreak, scientists believed that Ebola virus could be found in semen for three months after recovery,” said Dr. Moses Soka of the Liberian Ministry of Health. “With this study, we now know that the virus may persist for a year or longer.”

Dr. Moses, Soka, and his team carried out tests on 4289 men who recovered from the disease. They recorded that even after a year after a full recovery, 63 percent of the victims still had traces of the virus in their semen. The team also recovered that 9 percent of the surviving victims had traces of the disease, 430 days after their full recovery.

The team has now issued a statement asking recoveries to have protected sex at least for one year after infection. Or all their hard work eradicating the disease would be for not.

Business NONE

McDonald’s U.S. president to retire

McDonald’s has announced that U.S. President, Mike Andres, will retire.

Andres has served the company for 30 years and is considered one of the voices behind bringing McDonald’s into the new age of fast food corporations providing fresher options.

According to McDonald’s, Andres will officially retire effective January 1. He will be replaced by high ranking company executive, Chris Kempczinski.

Kempczinski will be the fourth head of the fast food chain since the fourth quarter of 2012.

Kempczinski, 47, joined the company last year from Kraft Foods Group where he served as president of international and vice president of growth initiatives

He is currently the McDonald’s executive vice president of strategy, business development and innovation.

“As we thank Mike for his contributions, we are confident Chris is the right leader to build upon our U.S. progress and bring a new level of convenience and excitement to the restaurant experience,” remarked McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Easterbrook.

Easterbrook became McDonald’s CEO last year and has made it a mission to improve and progress the foods offered by the company. Most notably, he pushed for the company to offer all day breakfast.

There is speculation that although Andres helped McDonald’s become fresher and change drastically, it will look to Kempczinski to help appeal to more health conscious customers.

McDonald’s has announced that it will replace all high fructose corn syrup in its sandwich buns with sugar.

They also announced that they will attempt to take all artificial preservatives out of many of its items.



China launches Tiangong-2 space laboratory

China has launched its second space lab and is further on its way to establishing its own permanent space station.

CNN reports that the space lab named Tiangong-2 was successfully launched with a Long March 2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in the Gobi Desert.  Tiangong-2, which translates to “heavenly vessel,” will enter into orbit about 250 miles above the Earth.

Two crew members will travel to the lab in October, marking China’s first crewed space mission since 2013.  The two astronauts will spend one month in the lab, conducting experiments involving physics, biology, and medicine.

Tiangong-2 is China’s second prototype on the path to creating a permanent, 20-ton space station, which China hopes to launch after 2020 – just about the time that the International Space Station is expected to go out of service.

According to CBS News, a series of month-long missions to Tiangong-2 will include experiments involving autonomous refueling methods, enhanced life support systems and other technologies needed for the assembly of the full permanent space station in 2022.

Tiangong-2 weighs in at about 9.5 tons and includes a wealth of scientific instruments, including spectrometers for studying Earth’s environment, a gamma ray detector for peering into deep space, and equipment designed to study the physiological effects of weightlessness.

“The launching of Tiangong-2 is a … solid foundation for the building of China’s space station in the future and is highly significant,” deputy director Wu Ping of China’s crewed space program said.

China also has plans to send a probe to Mars and is considering a crewed mission to the moon.