Space Stories: The Milky Way, Super-Earths, and Anti-Satellite Tests

Image (Credit): This annotated artist’s concept illustrates the new view of the Milky Way, along with other findings presented at the 212th American Astronomical Society meeting in 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. The galaxy’s two major arms (Scutum-Centaurus and Perseus) can be seen attached to the ends of a thick central bar, while the two now-demoted minor arms (Norma and Sagittarius) are less distinct and located between the major arms. The major arms consist of the highest densities of both young and old stars; the minor arms are primarily filled with gas and pockets of star-forming activity. The artist’s concept also includes a new spiral arm, called the “Far-3 kiloparsec arm,” discovered via a radio-telescope survey of gas in the Milky Way. This arm is shorter than the two major arms and lies along the bar of the galaxy. Our sun lies near a small, partial arm called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur, located between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech))

Here are some recent stories of interest. Through the Milky Way’s Arms May Have Helped Form Earth’s Solid Ground

Earth’s journey through the Milky Way might have helped create the planet’s first continents. Comets may have bombarded Earth every time the early solar system traveled through our galaxy’s spiral arms, a new study suggests. Those recurring barrages in turn helped trigger the formation of our planet’s continental crust, researchers propose August 23 in Geology. “Astronomers Discover Two ‘Super-Earths’ Orbiting Nearby Star

An international team of astronomers reports the discovery of two new “super-Earth” exoplanets orbiting a nearby late-type M dwarf star. The newfound alien worlds, designated LP 890-9 b and LP 890-9 c, are slightly larger than the Earth. The finding has been published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. “Germany and Japan Pledge Not to Conduct Destructive Anti-satellite Tests

Germany and Japan have pledged not to conduct destructive anti-satellite tests that could create dangerous clouds of space debris in orbit. The announcements of these pledges were both made at the second session of the United Nations’ open-ended working group on reducing space threats, which is being held in Geneva from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16…Germany’s and Japan’s announcements follow similar pledges made by the United States, Canada and New Zealand in the wake of Russia’s irresponsible destruction of a satellite in November 2021 that created a massive cloud of space debris.