Open Questions: Structure and evolution of the Milky Way

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See also: Galaxy formation, structure, and evolution

Introduction

The central black hole

Growth by assimilation of other galaxies


Recommended references: Web sites

Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Recommended references: Books

Introduction



Recommended references: Web sites

Site indexes

Open Directory Project: Milky Way
Categorized and annotated links. A version of this list is at Google, with entries sorted in "page rank" order. May also be found at Netscape.
Yahoo Milky Way Links
Annotated list of links.
Galaxy: Milky Way
Categorized site directory. Entries usually include descriptive annotations.


Sites with general resources

The Milky Way Galaxy
Short page of general information on the Milky Way, with some external links.
UCLA Galactic Center Group
"The UCLA Galactic Center Group is part of the UCLA Physics and Astronomy department and is dedicated to researching the innermost regions of the Milky Way. High angular resolution infrared observations taken with the Keck telescopes are used to study this extreme environment including the proposed super massive black hole believed to lie at the exact center of our Galaxy." The site includes a tutorial on the center of the galaxy and a number of good images.
Galactic Center Research at MPE
Home page of research project investigating the Milky Way's center. Contains good overview of what is known about the region of the central black hole.
The Black Hole in the Galactic Center
A slide show with images and animations about the galactic center.
GAIA
A major project of the European Space Agency. "Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy." Another Web site on the project is here and contains additional links and much more information.
MultiWavelength Milky Way
A project of NASA's Astrophysics Data Facility to "bring together several data sets to visualize images of our Milky Way galaxy in various wavelength regions." This is applicable to the investigations of the galaxy's shape, size, and composition.


Surveys, overviews, tutorials

Milky Way
Article from Wikipedia.
Ask a High-Energy Astronomer: Milky Way and Other Galaxies
Common questions, with answers, provided by NASA's Ask a High-Energy Astronomer service.
The Structure of the Milky Way
Good explanations and external links, part of Gene Smith's Astronomy Tutorial.
Journey to the Center of the Galaxy
Good introduction to the galactic center, by Angelle Tanner.
The New Tourist's Guide to the Milky Way
February 2006 article from Space.com. Surveys the main structural features of the Milky Way -- halo, spiral disk, galactic bar, central black hole.
Dramatic Increase in Supernova Explosions Looms
June 2002 article from Space.com. Reports on research that suggests in about 200 million years a period of rapid formation of massive stars near the center of the Milky Way will begin, and lead to a large number of supernovae.
Bird's Eye View and Other Fresh Insights
March 2002 article from Space.com. Discusses how evidence that the Milky Way has collided with and absorbed other galaxies in the past helps understand galaxy evolution in general.
The Milky Way: A Tourist's Guide
January 2000 article from Space.com. Provides an overview of the principal structural features of the Milky Way.
The Milky Way's Hidden Black Hole
October 2001 Scientific American In Depth article, subtitled "A giant x-ray flare from the heart of our galaxy is helping researchers test ideas about a black hole they believe lurks there."
Milky Way's central black hole located
September 2000 news article from Physics Web about identifying the galaxy's central black hole with the Sagittarius A* radio source.
The Galactic Center
Information about the Sagittarius A* radio source, believed to be a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. From Whispers from the Cosmos site.
Astronomers find nearest galaxy to the Milky Way
November 4, 2003 press release with links to pictures and animations which illustrate a newly discovered dwarf companion of the Milky Way.
Galactic Archaeology
Short June 2001 article from Scientific American on research into the history of the Milky Way.
Probing the Galactic Core
October 2000 Scientific American news article about new observations of the center of the Milky Way.
Milky Way feasts on its neighbors
April 2000 news article from Science News, about assembly of the Milky Way's halo from incorporation of other galaxies.
The stuff of stars is everywhere
January 2000 news article about the discovery by the FUSE satellite that molecular hydrogen is found nearly everywhere in the Milky Way.


Recommended references: Magazine/journal articles

Our Growing, Breathing Galaxy
Bart P. Wakker; Philipp Richter
Scientific American, January 2004
The Milky Way's Middle
Ron Cowen
Science News, February 23, 2002, pp. 122-124
The center of the Milky Way is obscured from observation in visible light due to heavy clouds of dust, but much is now being learned from observations at radio, infrared, and X ray wavelengths.
The Formation and Evolution of the Milky Way
Cristina Chiappini
American Scientist, November-December 2001, pp. 506-551
Many details of the process by which the Milky Way formed remain to be worked out. One key piece of information is the relative abundance of light elements in different stellar populations. Based on this, a new model of the galaxy's formation is proposed.
[Abstract and references]
Heart of Darkness
Robert Zimmerman
Astronomy, October 2001, pp. 42-47
Radio astronomers in the 1950s established the existence of something very unusual near what should be the center of the Milky Way. Since then, increasingly more precise observations have proven that something to be a massive black hole of about 2.6 million solar masses. New questions about this object seem to arise as quickly as older ones are answered.
Deconstructing the Milky Way Galaxy
Henry Freudenreich
American Scientist, September-October 1999, pp. 418-427
We know more about distant galaxies than we do about our own Milky Way. It has, for example, only recently become apparent that our galaxy is a barred spiral type.
The Mysterious Middle of the Milky Way
David H. Freedman
Discover, November 1998, pp. 66-75
Although the Milky Way does not exhibit the spectacular features of active galaxies, exotic phenomena like massive black holes and jets of antimatter are present in its center.
Does a Monster Lurk Closeby?
Bonnie Schulkin
Astronomy, September 1997, pp. 42-47
There appears to be a compact object of two to three million solar masses at the center of our galaxy. Evidence continues to accumulate that a single massive black hole is the only plausible explanation.
How the Milky Way Formed
Sidney van den Bergh; James E. Hesser
Scientific American, January 1993, pp. 72-78
Reconstructing a very ancient historical event, such as the formation of the Milky Way, is an exercise in archaeology. Although the Milky Way surely formed in the collapse of a large gas cloud, other processes, such as supernova explosions and the capture of pre-existing galactic fragments, probably played an important role.


Recommended references: Books


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