Astronomy

A New River in the Sky

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Science  31 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6136, pp. 1016
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6136.1016-c

Stellar streams are found throughout the outskirts of our galaxy. They are thought to be disrupted dwarf satellite galaxies or clusters of stars and are proof that the Milky Way formed in part by accreting smaller collections of stars. Based on data from two different all-sky surveys, Grillmair et al. have found a new, 24°-long, stellar stream running through the southern constellations of Phoenix, Eridanus, Hydrus, and Tucana. Named Alpheus, after the river in Homer's Iliad, this stream is estimated to be about 6200 light-years away—much closer than the stellar streams found so far in our galaxy. It is likely that Alpheus is associated with the globular cluster NGC 288, a family of stars that is thought to be in the process of breaking apart. If this is the case, further characterization of the stream will enable better modeling of the orbit of NGC 288.

Astrophys. J. 769, L23 (2013).

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