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Far-out Facts

About the

Milky Way

Galaxy

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When we think of where we are in the entire universe, our planet is just one a small speck. Even our solar system is one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, and our own galaxy is one of billions in the universe. It’s hard to image how big The Great Expanse actually is. But with advanced technology, we have a better understanding of what lies in the deepest parts of space. Just in our own Milky Way Galaxy, we have numerous suns, planets, solar systems, comets, black holes, and so much more. Here are 10 interesting facts about our Milky Way Galaxy…

10. Structure And Size Of The Milky Way Galaxy

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy with a center bulge that is surrounded by four arms that are wrapped around it. Around two-thirds of all the galaxies in The Great Expanse are shaped in a spiral. Our galaxy, as well as our solar system, is always rotating. While our solar system travels around 515,000 miles-per-hour on average, it would still take approximately 230 million years to travel around the Milky Way.

Our galaxy is around 100,000 light-years across and has a mass of between 400 and 780 billion times the mass of our own sun. 90% of its mass is believed to be dark matter.

There is a huge halo of hot gas surrounding our galaxy that stretches for hundreds of thousands of light-years. While it is believed to be as huge as all of the stars put together in the Milky Way, the halo itself only has around 2% of the amount of stars that are found inside of the disk.

And at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy is the galactic bulge which contains gas, stars, and dust that’s so thick you can’t even see into it, let alone to the other side.

9. The Andromeda Galaxy Will Eventually Collide With The Milky Way

The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will eventually collide into each other, but it won’t happen for a very long time. While it was previously thought that it would happen 3.75 billion years from now, newly conducted research from the ESA’s Gaia mission estimates the collision will take place in 4.5 billion years.

And we may not get hit as hard as previously thought. The new research also suggests that it won’t be a full force collision and rather a “tidal interaction,” which means that no planets or stars will collide with each other.

There is a group of more than 54 galaxies that are named the Local Group, of which Andromeda and the Milky Way are a part. These two galaxies, as well as the Triangulum Galaxy, are the three largest in the group. Andromeda is the most massive galaxy, while the Milky Way ranks second, and the Triangulum is third. Andromeda and Triangulum are both spiral galaxies and are situated between 2.5 and 3 million light years away from the Milky Way.

8. Our Galaxy Is Warped And Twisted Instead Of Being Flat

It’s always been said that our galaxy is flat as a pancake, but a recent study revealed that the Milky Way is in fact warped and twisted. The farther away the stars are from the center of the galaxy, the more they become warped and twisted in an S-like appearance.

Over 1,000 Cepheid variable stars (1,339 to be exact) were used in a study conducted by astronomers from Macquarie University as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences. These stars became bright and dim in a manner that changed according to their luminosity. The data collected from these stars by using the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or WISE) let astronomers create a 3D map of the true shape of our galaxy.

While the Milky Way is now confirmed to be warped and twisted, it’s not the only one out there that’s like that. While it’s not overly common, astronomers have confirmed that a dozen other galaxies in The Great Expanse have twisted spiral patterns in their outer-most areas.

7. There Are Hundreds Of Billions Of Stars In Our Galaxy

It’s tough to know exactly how many stars there are in our galaxy since the halo around the Milky Way also contains many stars. In addition, the center of our galaxy has a galactic bulge that’s filled with dust, stars, and gas, as well as a super-massive black hole which makes that area extremely thick with materials that telescopes are unable to see through it.

While around 90% of our galaxy’s mass is made up of dark matter, the majority of the remaining 10% is dust and gas, it is believe that only about 3% of the Milky Way’s mass is made up of stars. Some researchers believe that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy, while others say that there are much more – between 400 and 700 billion.

The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission is mapping out the locations of around 1 billion stars in the Milky Way, so that’s a good start.

6. There’s A Super-massive Black Hole At The Heart Of Our Galaxy

It is believed that most, if not all, galaxies have a super-massive black hole at their center and the Milky Way has one that weighs as much as 4 million suns. Sagittarius A*, which is the massive object located at the center of our galaxy, has been observed for the past several years. Although black holes can’t actually be seen, scientists study them by observing the materials that are orbiting around them.

Scientists wanted to measure the effects of gravity near the black hole so they decided to observe a small star called S2 that orbits deep within Sagittarius A*’s gravity well every 16 years. They noticed three bright flares that traveled around the black hole’s event horizon at approximately 216 million miles per hour (or 30% of the speed of light).

Scientists previously believed that there were only small and super-massive black holes, but there are in fact medium-sized (or intermediate) black holes that are rare but they do exist, and we’ll talk about that in the next entry…

5. There’s Also A Jupiter-Sized Black Hole Wandering Around Our Galaxy

New research indicates that a rare Jupiter-sized black hole is wandering around our galaxy. The data came from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (or ALMA) which includes 66 telescopes that are placed across the Atacama Desert located in the northern part of Chile.

The data consisted of the scientists observing two gas clouds, called Balloon and Stream in reference to their shapes, and what they witnessed during their two-day observation period in May 2018 was that the gas clouds were moving in an odd pattern, like they were spinning around an invisible center in a location where no light was coming from.

The team determined that the object was an uncommon medium-sized black hole that has around 30,000 times the mass of our sun and is approximately the size of Jupiter.

4. Earth Is At The Center Of The Habitable Zone In Our Galaxy

For the last two decades, astronomers have modeled the evolution of our galaxy in order to figure out the four essentials needed for complex life – the existence of a host star; a sufficient amount of heavy elements to create terrestrial planets (like Earth); enough time for biological evolution; and an environment without gamma ray bursts or life-threatening supernovae.

Almost 4,000 exoplanets and nearly 3,000 planetary systems have been confirmed to exist in our galaxy. Hundreds of those star systems have more than one planet that is within the Galactic Habitable Zone (or GHZ) and there is no doubt that many more are out there just waiting to be discovered.

And of course Earth is located at a perfect spot near the center of our galaxy’s GHZ. What’s even more interesting is that according to astrophysicists at the Australian National University, the GHZ only has about 10% of all the stars in the Milky Way.

3. There Are Almost 4,000 Exoplanets In Our Galaxy

Planets that are beyond our solar system are called exoplanets and thousands have been discovered by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope over the past several years. These exoplanets can be any size, with some being rocky and others having icy surfaces.

The Kepler Space Telescope worked to find these planets from 2009 until 2018. During that time, it discovered 2,682 exoplanets with over 2,900 possible candidates that are still waiting to be confirmed. And according to information found on NASA’s website, a total of 3,916 exoplanets (including the ones found by Kepler) have been confirmed.

Kepler ran out of gas and was officially decommissioned in November 2018. However, a new spacecraft, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (or TESS) has taken its place to find new planets. It was launched in April of 2018 and is planning to scan around 85% of the sky in its two-year mission.

2. So Far, Almost 3,000 Planetary Systems Have Been Discovered In Our Galaxy

Another important piece of information presented on NASA’s website is that 2,917 planetary systems have already been discovered. One of those planetary systems which is very similar is our own solar system is called Kepler-90 which is located approximately 2,500 light years away from us towards the Draco Constellation.

Kepler-90 has eight planets which is the same number of planets located in our solar system. Other similarities between the two solar systems are that Kepler-90 has a G-type star which is comparable to our own sun; it has rocky planets like ours; and it has other large planets that are similar in size to Saturn and Jupiter.

One major difference between the two solar systems is that Kepler-90’s planets all orbit very close to their sun which would indicate that they may be too hot to sustain any type of life. But with further research, more planets could potentially be discovered that orbit at a further distance.

1A. Milky Way Is Only One Of Hundreds Of Billions Of Galaxies In The Universe

According to data collected from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, it was previously thought that there were around 200 billion galaxies in the universe. However, it is now believed that there are at least ten times more galaxies out there in space.

Some experts believe that around 90% of the galaxies in the observable universe are too far away and even too faint to see with our telescopes. Thankfully, the James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST) is scheduled to be launched in early 2021 which will help to see these faint galaxies and perhaps uncover even more.

Some of the tasks the JWST will conduct will be to find out what happened after the first stars were formed following the Big Bang; finding out how galaxies were formed and assembled; the birth of stars and proto-planetary systems; and understanding the atmospheres on distant planets to find out if they are habitable and can sustain life.

1B. What WIF Calls the Universe

What most folks refer to as the “Universe”, the rest of the fictional civilizations out there call it “The Great Expanse”, at least that is how  “I-Gwen” describes that wondrous-wide Creation that God set in motion. If giving God credit offends your sensibility, the “Big Bang” happened.

Whatever it is called or whoever gets the credit, it certainly boggles our little minds and this author is eternally fascinated.


Greater Galaxy Gateway Gala

WIF Space

The NULL Solution = Episode 195

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The NULL Solution = Episode 195

…A dynamic force develops in the form of one family of explorers…

The people of the Third Planet begin to explore the space beyond their atmosphere, just as others have done before them. They are restless. They wonder if they are alone among the stars. ⃝     can only watch.

     intervenes in the politics on the Third Planet to rebuke the nuclear aggression by the leadership of the United Korean Peninsula. They will not be allowed to unilaterally destroy the balance of power there.      must protect.      must protect the good. Evil is bad.

A dynamic force develops in the form of one family of explorers. Of all those aspiring to explore the Great Expanse, utilizing the Third Planet as a base, the clan McKinney rises above the rest. They have reached the Fourth Planet with the intention of colonization. Colonizing is not a new concept. Other worlds have done so. The McKinney curiosity leads them to a vessel from a not-so-distant star system. The Milky Way galaxy and the Great Expanse will forever be changed.

Then, three galaxies meet. Separation is bridged by altering the fabric of space and time, each to their skill. The illusion of aloneness is shattered. The need for logical coexistence increases with every interaction. ⃝     will make way a path to coexist.

     is fond of the literary twist called the riddle. Riddles are challenging. Riddles require insightful thought. Insight reveals the character of the reader. Dismissing a riddle demonstrates a lack of determination. Determination solves riddles. Failure lacks determination.


I am the how & why that blocks your way

2 + 1 = 6

6 – 2 = 9

0 – 1 = 0

Solve the what where & who and you can pass through

I am the how & why that blocks your way

Prove your worthiness and the light will show the way back


Such are the riddles posed by us in order to unlock the gates to an order, a confederation of worlds that promotes peace and cooperation rather than conflict. The Creator scorns conflict. Conflict is bad.

Harmonia will be a gathering point among the Great Expanse. It will have a light that shines throughout. All who see the beacon are invited to participate in Harmonia. Acceptance is encouraged. Those who see the light and reject it shall be dealt with, the degree of which will shadow their accounts in ⃝    ’s library of life.

Harmonia now thrives on the Fourth Planet of the star system named Terran, in the galaxy called the Milky Way. They call me Lorgan.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 195


page 189 (end Ch. 21)

The NULL Solution = Episode 119

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The NULL Solution = Episode 119

…What do you do when you are given a ring full of keys and only one lock to open… oh and there is a mysterious treasure on the other side?…

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Cryptomaniacs Anonymous

 


The Cryptomaniac Creed:

“God grant me the…

Serenity to accept Riddles I cannot solve

Courage to solve the ones I can

And the Wisdom to know when to give up”


Admitting you have a problem is the start of real healing. An epic riddle is stuck in the craw of an entire galaxy.

The Milky Way Chapter of CA-Intergalactic is the largest addiction recovery group in the Universe, boasting membership on Earth, Eridanus and most recently, Mars. The greatest minds, living/breathing or circuitry/A.I., continue to pour over the annoying cryptic challenge.

The Triangulum Chapter of CA-Intergalactic is about to form, having been reeled into the nasty habit by that master of temptation, Sampson McKinney, who passes his addiction on to Chasonn, who never met a challenge he could not resist. The “Harmonia Query” should mean little to Seljuk, but there is something about that Space Family McKinney that hits close to home. Those Earthlings are a compelling story, seemingly tossed about the Great Expanse by circumstances they rarely have a handle on.

But that is the problem with wisdom; it comes slow and it comes hard.

What do you do when you are given a ring full of keys and only one lock to open… oh and there is a mysterious treasure on the other side? This one – no this one – maybe this key will open the door. The requisite anxiety level is a variable, not a constant, depending on the interested individual.


The NULL Solution =

Image result for anxiety level gif

Episode 119


page 118

The NULL Solution = Episode 88

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The NULL Solution = Episode 88

…Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old…

… out where Eridanians fear to tread, a coalition of another sort is serves its purpose in the form sharing current events. There is currently no exchange of ambassadors between allied cultures, so traditional forms of communication are vital for the well-being of all concerned.

Seljuk is pleased to learn {from Eridanus} that their disruptor ray and force-field are being put to good use by Earth. They are grieved to hear the news about Princess Cerella’s kidnapping and her eventual medical emergency on Earth, of all places.. They are pleased to know that Ekcello and the rest of the Gifted have been restored to their former giftedness.

…as they say.

In all the news that is fit to print from Seljuk, leader and raconteur Chasonn has some news of his own to share; both bad and good variety.

The bad news is that a gigantic planetary refuge/ship has been launched by the Ÿ€Ð.

The good news is that the entire population were able to escape Ÿ€Ðian home world before it was rear-ended by a sister world.

More possible bad news: they are on a course for Earth.

More possible good news: Chasonn and his people are poised along a path that leads from Galaxy Sexta A to the Milky Way.

No news would be better news.

Chasonn is a peaceful sort on most days, but he has done some scouting of his own and by the looks of Collapsar Axis, nothing good can come of its plodding progression through this greater Great Expanse neighborhood. Of the major civilizations in this sector, Chasonn’s steadying influence has resulted in intergalactic concordance. Nothing bad ever happens over this way, until he lost those three major outposts. And even though no lives were lost, a security blanket has been yanked away from them.

Misplaced security is the common thread intertwining nearly all parties concerned lately. In no particular order, but curiously serendipitous nonetheless, you have the Seljuk incident, the Eridanus episode, the Ÿ€Ð displacement and Earth on pins and needles.

Like a cat on a hot tin roof, some 20 billion beings, as disparate as the birth of a star is to a black hole, are longing for the days of old, i.e. Stardate 2029 when:

  • Chasonn had worked selflessly to make the Triangulum Galaxy a model cluster of stars.
  • Ekcello had the Gifted right where they wanted to be.
  • Earth was poised to colonize Mars.
  • Life was good.

Two decades later, all these feet are being held to the fire.

So what gives?


The NULL Solution =

Coals in a Fire – photo from Mongkol Chakritthakool (footprints added)

Episode 88


page 89

The NULL Solution = Episode 79

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The NULL Solution = Episode 79

…Because you may not come back, for any number of reasons, the least of which is all the comforts of home and the housekeeper’s cooking.

See – that’s what you get for failing the transmigration class. I am going hyperphysical, baby…

Just as Deke was starting his soliloquy, Celeste pops in to check on her guys. She is acutely aware of Sampson’s opinions on his missing daughter-in-law, which means making sure he does not do anything rash.

“I gather the nonnatives are getting restless.”

“Dad wants to go back to Earth and I was talking him off the Defender ledge.”

“Ekcello and I have been discussing some options…”

“… Ekcello and I – like he cares,” the skeptic in Sam shows itself yet again.

“It’s his offspring who is lost, not ours, so you bet he cares. As I was saying, we talked it over and we think it is time I return to Earth.”

“See – see what I was telling you Gus! I can almost taste a King Ranch Hereford ribeye now.”

“But not in the Defender Sam. We think a well-being check is in order.”

“On Gus and Roy and Francine, yes! And why can’t I go?”

“Because you may not come back, for any number of reasons, the least of which is all the comforts of home and the housekeeper’s cooking.” Like a teacher with a borderline student she adds, “See – that’s what you get for failing the transmigration class. I am going hyperphysical, baby!

“Which means you can look, but you can’t touch, right?”

“Yes, I can leave clues that I’ve been there, but that’s all.”

And so the saga of a lost Eridanian Princess and her Milky Way wandering mother-in-law opens a new phase.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 79


page 82

The NULL Solution = Episode 60

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The NULL Solution = Episode 60

…The Ÿ€Ð commander of the Epsilon expedition ship has the bright idea to kidnap that female offspring of Ekcello the Halfhearted…

— In the foreseeable present, the last 3 remaining Ÿ€Ð cruisers {left in one piece} set out on their missions, one for the Triangulum Galaxy and two to the Milky Way. As sure as a star is born, one of the three will locate the culprit, that one that destroyed what is left of Ÿ€Ð once feared prowess.

One ship wings its way straight for Epsilon Eridani. They need go no further than Orion’s Belt to find a people capable of taking down the meat of their fleet. Leave it to the quiet kids on the block to suddenly change their reclusive ways and take out the competition; competition for one of the garden spots in all of creation – Earth. {No more a habitable place can be found. If it were not so distant, a flotilla of Ÿ€Ð colonizers would have barged their way in long ago}

Just what they really know about the Eridanians is debatable. The last they heard, Ekcello the Halfhearted {their harsh nickname}, had shrunk away in the wake of Ÿ€Ð intimidation – some time back. That makes them an easy target.

But…

Rumors are flying about a royal birth, a female no less.

There are rumors about the presence of Earthlings on Eridanus.–

The commander of the Epsilon expedition ship has the bright idea to kidnap that female offspring of Ekcello the Halfhearted. A well-timed transporter beam should do the trick.

“We have detected a warp deceleration,” Deke McKinney of the Space Family McKinney is on duty, the job of looking out past the mist encapsulating Eridanus.

“That is not good news. Chasonn would have given us a heads-up,” Sampson McKinney speculates. “Send out a warning.”

An Eridanian warning comes in the form of an audible deep-bass disruptor in the key of B#. It will awaken the dead and confound the living, regardless of the specie.

This cosmic occurrence is simultaneous to a pow-wow concerning ⃝    . Hopefully, think-tanking will add a measure of understanding.  Ekcello, Cerella, the McKinneys and Skaldic meet regularly to discuss ideas, both old and new.

“It looks like they are just cruising through, heading away passed the Olde Home World.”

“Ÿ€Ð.” Ekcello’s tone is one of deep disgust. He can smell them a mile away.

Such attention is paid to the passing spacecraft that not one of them notices anything else thereabout, “The sphere!” Sammy Mac spies the enigmatic sphere of much wonder. “Never mind it’s gone.”

The cruiser from Galaxy Sexta A is nowhere to be seen either/anymore; the scene is chaotic.

Without fanfare or tangible despair, Cerella, Heiress to the High Council of Eridanus has vanished… along with her unborn child.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 60


page 62

The NULL Solution = Episode 59

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The NULL Solution = Episode 59

Župzïð the Last is so named because he will be the final ruler of the Ÿ€Ð star system, which will soon be meeting the end of a very long run…

CHAPTER SIX

Milky Way Apprehensive

 A star’s glow, however bright the shine, travels at a prescribed rate of speed; unless it is altered, bent, skewed, accelerated or absorbed.

Similarly, not everything stays exactly the same forever.

And so it is with the temporary peace in the Milky Way. Some are content to let the other shoe to drop, others do not.

The Ÿ€Ð are not about to take the loss of their “exploratory” fleet lying down. The #13 ship may well have been their unlucky downfall. Would 12 ships have fared better? Is number thirteen a universal bane? Do not all the civilized of space count upward from zero?

Once upon a time, Župzïð the Last would have been one of those 13 commanders whose ship was dispatched into the vacuum of space… on the fringe of a puny star system in the Milky Way. In what is Stardate 2052, his thick blood is boiling.

 Župzïð the Last is so named because he will be the final ruler of the Ÿ€Ð star system, which will soon be meeting the end of a very long run. The home planet’s {of three} orbit is slowing down. That deceleration will upset the heretofore convenient parade around their white giant of a star.

The funny thing about gravity is that it is the single true universal influence.

Župzïð the Last was revered by all,

Župzïð the Last’s world was about to fall.

All of Župzïð’s spaceships and all of his brightest,

Couldn’t help Župzïð save the Ÿ€Ð planet.

And so goes the folk tale that is shared around Ÿ€Ð gatherings in these final days. Most of the most have already scattered themselves among nearby **inhabitable planets {**anything round w/atmosphere}. Panic induced and uncontrollable, the once proud, if not revolting, societal fabric of the Ÿ€Ð has been torn from apart from within.

But that doesn’t mean that the transcendent core was about to go the way of inconsequence. With the aid of waning planetary resources, Župzïð is building a space oasis of the grandest scale. In his inimitable way he crows, “Cowards will regret not joining the Ÿ€Ð sanctuary.”

The Collapsar Axis will be completed soon. The good news for neighboring galaxies is the Collapsar Axis is too large to move very far… yet.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 59


page 61