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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 Names Mars Rock after The Band, The Rolling Stones

Slightly larger than a golf ball, the “Rolling Stones Rock” is said to have rolled about 3 feet (1 meter), spurred by the InSight spacecraft’s thrusters

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The "Rolling Stones Rock," slightly larger than a golf ball and named after the rock band, is seen on the surface of Mars after it rolled about 3 feet, spurred by the thrusters on NASA's InSight spacecraft, Nov. 26, 2018. VOA

The Rolling Stones have rocked stages around the world in their more than 50-year career. But now their influence has gone into space after NASA’s Mars InSight Mission named a rock on the planet after the band.

Slightly larger than a golf ball, the “Rolling Stones Rock” is said to have rolled about 3 feet (1 meter), spurred by the InSight spacecraft’s thrusters during touchdown on Mars in November, NASA said.

“In images taken by InSight the next day, several divots in the orange-red soil can be seen trailing Rolling Stones Rock,” it said. “It’s the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet.”

Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr. announced the name as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts were about to perform Thursday night at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium, close to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA, Mars, Rock
The Rolling Stones have rocked stages around the world in their more than 50-year career. Pixabay

The Rolling Stones, known for hits such as “Sympathy For The Devil” and “Brown Sugar,” called the honor “a milestone in our long and eventful history.”

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While the “Rolling Stones Rock” name is informal, it will feature on working maps of Mars, NASA said, but only the International Astronomical Union can give official scientific names for locations, asteroids and other objects in the solar system. (VOA)