Astronomers that study the galaxy through the Hubble Telescope have learned how the LMC (Large Magellanic Cloud) is rotating. By studying the galaxy through the telescope astronomers can see the stars moving slowly in clock like direction. The LMC galaxy is rotating very slowly in the milky way, approximately 163,00o light years. Astronomers estimate that the LMC completes a rotation about every 250 million years; the cloud is estimated to have a mass the 10 billion times larger than the sun.
Roeland van der Marel and Nitya Kallivayalil, scientists from the University of Virginia say, “Determining a galaxy’s rotation by measuring its instantaneous back and forth motions doesn’t allow one to actually see things change over time,” van der Marel said. “By using Hubble to study the stars’ motions over several years, we can actually for the first time see a galaxy rotate in the plane of the sky.”
The Hubble Telescope orbits the earths atmosphere taking extremely hight resolution pictures that are crystal clear and it is the only telescope of it kind. The telescope was sent into space by NASA in 1990 and provides scientists with vital research data from the images it takes. Looking through the telescope and using a series of standard candles astronomers have been able to roughly calculate the distance of the LMC. Now astronomers have learned that by studying the stars in the neighboring galaxy they can see how the LMC is rotating like a clock, a very slow clock. The massive cloud is composed of rich gases and dust is constantly forming new stars in its nitrogen rich atmosphere.
NASA’s telescope is expected to remain in orbit and function until possibly the year 2020. In 2018 NASA is expected to launch a new super telescope the James Webb Space Telescope that will be even more powerful than its predecessor Hubble Telescope. It should be exciting find out what astronomers can see with the new telescope.
How Does The Galaxy Rotate? Astronomers Learn With the Hubble Telescope.