January 31st, 2006 10:50 EST
(Cairo Egypt) - Andromeda: M31- Secret Of The Sky
Most of us don`t know much about galaxies, and some of us don`t care to know except for brief information here and there about our Milky Way Galaxy, but we have a large galactic neighbor two million light-years away. Wider and brighter than ours and the most distant object easily visible to the unaided eye, this galaxy called Andromeda, also known as Messier 31, M31.
The first hint of the nature of the Andromeda Galaxy came in 1923 when several stars were identified in the system, but it was noticed several hundreds of years before by the Persian astronomer `Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi, in 964 AD when he observed Andromeda and described it as a "small cloud". Later, in 1612, the first telescopic description was given by Simon Marius.
But there was an important observation in 1885 when a super nova was seen in Andromeda Galaxy. Novae are stellar outbursts that lead to a rapid brightening when mass is transferred between two stars in a binary system, causing the surface layers of one star to ignite explosively from the fusion of hydrogen nuclei. This observation gained the interest of many astronomers later, but the highest discovery for novae in this galaxy was in 2000 by high school teachers and their students, who noted 73 novae in the Andromeda galaxy through a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded education program called "The Use of Astronomy in Research Based Science Education" (RBSE). The NSF RBSE Teacher Enhancement program includes a four-week summer workshop for middle and high school teachers interested in incorporating astronomy research within their science classes. In 1991, the Planetary Camera-- then onboard the Hubble Space Telescope-- imaged Andromeda`s core as having a nucleus with a double structure. The "nuclear hot-spots" are located close together; later on a NASA press release revealed that Andromeda`s core has a super massive central black hole of around 140 million Solar-masses. In 2005, astronomers announced that Andromeda has a bright disk that spans at least 260,000 light-years.
Andromeda galaxy is a large world of secrets that astronomers have spent many years to explore and study, and will spend many more in the future in an effort to give us a clear picture of the life circulating around us.
I was very much impressed with your article on the website. You researched your subject very well and I think you must have some interest in Astronomy. I would encourage you to continue your work and interest, and by all means READ. You can access research papers in astronomy on the internet to get an idea of what astronomers and astrophysicist do. You would need an advanced degree in science to work in astronomy. Good luck to you and keep a positive attitude.
Donald I. Craig, Jr.
Indianapolis, IN, USA
Author of: Andromeda: Pathway to Discovery
and: The Andromeda Galaxy A Guide to the Universe (June 2006)