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Astronomers Spot Primitive ‘Little Cub’ Galaxy that may Shed Light on Early Universe

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Little Cub galaxy
The Little Cub galaxy - so called because it sits in the Ursa Major or Great Bear constellation. Galaxy (Representational Image). Wikimedia
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  • Gas from the Little Cub is being stripped away by its interaction with NGC 3359, which has up to 10,000 times as many stars as the Little Cub and is similar to our Milky Way
  • The Little Cub and its larger neighbour, a grand design spiral galaxy called NGC 3359
  • By observing this cosmic feast, scientists hope to understand more about how and when gas is lost from smaller galaxies

London, July 4, 2017: Astronomers have spotted a primitive galaxy, dubbed Little Cub, which they believe could reveal more about the chemical signature of the universe just minutes after the Big Bang.

The Little Cub galaxy – so called because it sits in the Ursa Major or Great Bear constellation – also offers the astronomers a rare chance to see galaxy demise as it starts to be consumed by a gigantic neighbouring galaxy.

The Little Cub and its larger neighbour, a grand design spiral galaxy called NGC 3359, are about 200,000 to 300,000 light years apart, and approximately 50 million light years from Earth, according to the study being presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy meeting in Britain on Tuesday.

Gas from the Little Cub is being stripped away by its interaction with NGC 3359, which has up to 10,000 times as many stars as the Little Cub and is similar to our Milky Way.

ALSO READ: Researchers spot Rare Elliptical-like Galaxy with two Circular Rings for the First Time

By observing this cosmic feast, scientists hope to understand more about how and when gas is lost from smaller galaxies.

We may be witnessing the quenching of a near-pristine galaxy as it makes its first passage about a Milky Way-like galaxy, said lead author Tiffany Hsyu from the University of California Santa Cruz, US.

It is rare for such a tiny galaxy to still contain gas and be forming stars when it is in close proximity to a much larger galaxy so this is a great opportunity to see just how this process works, Hsyu added.

Essentially the larger galaxy is removing the fuel that the Little Cub needs to form stars, which will eventually shut down star formation and lead to the smaller galaxy’s demise, Hsyu explained.

The researchers also hope to gain an insight into the make-up of the very early Universe, by studying the hydrogen and helium atoms that are being illuminated by the small number of very bright stars within the Little Cub.

Since this galaxy is so primitive, it may still preserve the hydrogen and helium atoms that were created minutes after the Big Bang.

We know by studying the chemistry of the Little Cub that it is one of the most primitive objects currently known in our cosmic neighbourhood, said research co-author Ryan Cooke from Durham University in England.

Such galaxies, which have remained dormant for most of their lives, are believed to contain the chemical elements forged a few minutes after the Big Bang, Cooke added. (IANS)

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Hawking treated Artificial Intelligence as threat to humanity

Hawking's theory lies upon the assumption that the universe has no boundaries

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Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14th, 2018
  • He treated AI always as a threat to humanity
  • There were many arguments he presented to support his point

Award-winning physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who died on Wednesday, always warned against Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its growing dominance over humanity.

“Earth is becoming too small and humanity is bound to self-destruct, with AI replacing us as the dominant being on the planet,” he told wired.com in November 2017.

There are many good uses of AI, but it can be misused too.
There are many good uses of AI, but it can be misused too.

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans,” Hawking said.

The theoretical physicist kept on saying in the past that that developments in AI have been so great that the machines will one day be more dominant than human beings.

He noted that a new space programme should be humanity’s top priority “with a view to eventually colonising suitable planets for human habitation”.

“I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing,” Hawking warned.

In 2016, at the opening of Cambridge University’s AI centre, Professor Hawking said that AI could either be the best or worst invention humanity has ever made. Earlier in March, the renowned British physicist said there was nothing around before the Big Bang.

Speaking during a TV talk show “Star Talk” on National Geographic Channel, Hawking propounded his theory on what happened before the universe came into existence. Hawking’s theory lies upon the assumption that the universe has no boundaries. During the show, Hawking argued that before the Big Bang, real ordinary time was replaced by imaginary time and was in a bent form.

AI has the potential to increase India's annual growth.
AI can harm humanity: Hawking. Pixabay

“It was always reaching closer to nothing but didn’t become nothing,” he said. Further, Hawking drew an analogy between the distorted time with Ancient Greek philosopher Euclid’s theory of space-time, a closed surface without end.

Taking the example of Earth, he said: “One can regard imaginary and real-time beginning at the South Pole … There is nothing south of the South Pole, so there was nothing around before the Big Bang.”

Also Read:Humanity’s days are numbered, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause mass extinction, warns Stephen Hawking

“There was never a Big Bang that produced something from nothing. It just seemed that way from mankind’s perspective,” Hawking said, hinting that a lot of what we believe is derived from a human-centric perspective, which might limit the scope of human knowledge of the world. IANS