Astronomy: Gaia's Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds and Black Holes

Weekend Variety Wireless 05/05/2018
The Magellanic clouds. Credit: File.

Neighbouring galaxies, otherwise known as 'Magellanic clouds', lie just beyond the Milky Way.

Astronomer Dr Grant Christie joins Graeme Hill to discuss the Magellanic clouds images taken from Chile. These two "clouds", first described by Ferdinand Magellan are two dwarf galaxies very close to our much larger Milky Way Galaxy.

Following The Gaia Project’s second data release, precise positions of over 1.3 billion stars have been plotted- still being only about 1% of the Milky Way's stars. At the lower right of the map are stars of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

Solar minimum is where solar activity is least active in its cycle. So far in 2018 the sun has been blank almost 60% of the time, with whole weeks going by without sunspots.

Today's sun, shown from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, is typical of the featureless solar disk: sunspots are vanishing faster than expected.

Forecasters have been saying for years that this would happen as the current solar cycle ("solar cycle 24") comes to an end- the surprise is how fast.

Do big black holes wander the galaxy? New simulation work suggests that galaxies like the Milky Way could be home to a dozen supermassive black holes. How would we know?

Also, University of Cambridge Professor, Stephen Hawking's final theory on the origin of the universe- Taming the multiverse- has just been published following his death.

Listen to the full audio with Dr Grant Christie above.

Weekend Variety Wireless with Graeme Hill, 8pm - midnight Saturdays and Sundays, on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the Rova app on Android and iPhone.