SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, August 15
Beyond the Milky Way
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
In 1924 a Missouri-born astronomer, Edwin Hubble, published his discovery of the nature of the ?spiral nebulae? seen scattered throughout the sky. They are not giant clouds of dust and gas within our Milky Way galaxy, as many then believed. Instead, they are island universes ? enormous collections of billions of stars, sailing through space far beyond the Milky Way. Eighty-four years later, astronomers are using colossal ground-based telescopes and a fleet of orbiting instruments including the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the structure of these galaxies. They seek to determine how galaxies formed and how they are evolving over cosmic time spans. Galaxies do not live the serene, quiet life once imagined. New stars are born, old stars explode, and galaxies themselves collide. Rich Heuermann will present an overview of the nature of galaxies and a summary of discoveries made during the past year. He will also mention the location of some of the brighter objects readily visible through backyard telescopes.
Rich Heuermann is the Outreach Program Coordinator of the NASA Missouri Space Grant Consortium at Washington University. He is also an amateur astronomer and long-time member of the Saint Louis Astronomical Society.