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Betsy Mills

Betsy Mills has written 7 posts for astrobites

The (not so) Sordid History of the Small Magellanic Cloud

The authors of today’s paper find out just what kind of star formation history lies in the Milky Way’s next meal: The Small Magellanic Cloud. After all, they say you are what you eat.

The black hole and the 50-course meal

The authors of today’s paper investigate the feeding habits of the elusive quiescent supermassive black hole, finding that in addition to swallowing some stars whole and constantly snacking on the winds of other stars, some black holes may also dine on giant stars slowly disrupted over tens to hundreds of orbits.

The Whirlpool Galaxy Like You’ve Never Seen it Before

It’s big, it’s active, and it’s only 20 million lightyears away– it is the Whirlpool galaxy, and astronomers are getting a brand new view. Using the Plateau de Bure interferometer, this paper examines the gas in this nearby grand-design spiral galaxy on arcsecond scales, resolving for the first time its individual molecular clouds. What does this tell us about star formation in this galaxy? Stay tuned!

Going Big with LOFAR

Check out these cool new results from LOFAR which is boldly going to some of the longest wavelengths astronomers have ever observed! An active galaxy has a less active past than we might expect, pulsating neutron stars are behaving strangely, and even at wavelengths as long as meters, there are still spectral lines from extremely low-energy atomic transitions.

Simulations of Dark matter core formation

The Top 12 of 2012

What were astronomers reading and talking about in their research last year? Check out figures from the top 12 most-cited astronomy papers from 2012 (so far) and find out what researchers were up to and why!

Figure 3: formaldehyde maps

The Hot, Irradiated Center of our Milky Way

Unlike its candy bar namesake, the center of our Milky Way Galaxy is not actually a very pleasant place to be. There’s a supermassive central black hole to deal with, intense radiation from a population of massive stars, and hot clouds of molecular gas. In this paper, the authors use observations of three molecular spectral lines to measure the temperatures of these gas clouds in the center of the Galaxy, and find that the processes heating the clouds may not be what you expect!

Artist's conception of the Milky Way

The Milky Way is cut back down to size

Everything in our galaxy is moving– you, the earth underneath you, the sun, other stars– everything. However, it turns out that figuring out how fast some of these things are moving is surprisingly difficult, and can have Galactic-sized implications!

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