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NASA discovers galactic tail twice as long as Milky Way

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Washington: An unbelievable and extraordinary ribbon of hot gas has been discovered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

This ribbon, or X-ray tail, is likely due to gas stripped from the galaxy as it moves through a vast cloud of hot intergalactic gas.

With a length of at least 250,000 light years, it is likely the largest such tail ever detected.

The tail is located in the galaxy cluster Zwicky 8338, which is almost 700 million light years from Earth.

The length of the tail is more than twice the diameter of the entire Milky Way galaxy.

The tail contains gas at temperatures of about 10 million degrees Celsius but still hot enough to glow brightly in X-rays that Chandra can detect, the US space agency said in a statement.

The researchers think the tail was created as a galaxy known as CGCG254-021, or perhaps a group of galaxies dominated by this large galaxy, plowed through the hot gas in Zwicky 8338.

The pressure exerted by this rapid motion caused gas to be stripped away from the galaxy.

Astronomers were also able to learn more about the interactions of the system by carefully examining the properties of the galaxy and its tail.

The tail has a brighter spot, referred to as its “head”. Behind this head is the tail of diffuse X-ray emission.

The gas in the head may be cooler and richer in elements heavier than helium than the rest of the tail.

In front of the head there are hints of a bow shock, similar to a shock wave formed by a supersonic plane and in front of the bow shock is the galaxy CGCG254-021.
The paper describing these results was published in the Astronomy and Astrophysics journal. (IANS) (image: nasa.gov)

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NASA: No contact Made With Storm-Hit Mars Rover, Till Now

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover's batteries.

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NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18. Flickr

 NASA is yet to make contact with its Mars Opportunity Rover ever since a massive storm started on the Red Planet in June.

Based on the longevity of a 2001 global storm, NASA scientists estimate it may be September before the haze has cleared enough for Opportunity to power up and call home, the US space agency said this week.

Scientists first observed a smaller-scale dust storm on May 30. By June 20, it had gone global.

For the Opportunity rover, that meant a sudden drop in visibility from a clear, sunny day to that of an overcast one.

Because Opportunity runs on solar energy, scientists had to suspend science activities to preserve the rover’s batteries.

NASA said no response has been received from the rover as of July 18.

NASA
The nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling. Pixabay

Luckily, all that dust acts as an atmospheric insulator, keeping nighttime temperatures from dropping down to lower than what Opportunity can handle.

But the nearly 15-year-old rover is not out of the woods yet as it could take weeks, or even months, for the dust to start settling.

When the skies begin to clear, Opportunity’s solar panels may be covered by a fine film of dust. That could delay a recovery of the rover as it gathers energy to recharge its batteries. A gust of wind would help, but is not a requirement for a full recovery, NASA said.

While the Opportunity team waits in earnest to hear from the rover, scientists on other Mars missions have gotten a rare chance to study this storm.

Also Read-Survival Of Mars Rover Is Under Threat Due To A sandstorm

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Odyssey, and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiters are all tailoring their observations of the Red Planet to study this global storm and learn more about Mars’ weather patterns.

Meanwhile, the Curiosity rover is studying the dust storm from the Martian surface, the US space agency added. (IANS)

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