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Pull of the Galactic Center

  1. Mar 5, 2004 #1
    Quick questions for you astrophysicists out there:

    At what velocity do objects typically "fall" towards the galactic center? Or are we talking a positive acceleration? Assuming the sun were to survive long enough to reach the center, which it of course won't, how long would it take? Or do galactic objects remain in a fixed radial orbit like planets around the sun?

    Any help is appreciated...

    -Slag, FNG
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2004 #2
    The main theory is that we are spiraling tward the center of the universe.
    Gravity itself causes acceleration.
     
  4. Mar 5, 2004 #3
    So are we *not* moving towards the galactic center?
     
  5. Mar 5, 2004 #4

    mathman

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    The solar system orbiting the galactic center is based on the same laws of physics as the earth orbiting the sun.
     
  6. Mar 5, 2004 #5

    Nereid

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    Perhaps you could work it out yourself?

    Inputs (these may not be the best values, but they'll do for now):
    - distance of the solar system to Sag A* (the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way): 28,000 light years
    - time taken for solar system to go once around Sag A*: 250 million years

    Will the Sun 'fall' into Sag A*? Why should it? After all, the Earth doesn't 'fall' into the Sun :smile:
     
  7. Mar 8, 2004 #6
    Copy. I'm no astrophysicist (hense why I'm asking such questions here) and have never claimed to be. I was always under the impression that the galaxy was slowly pulling into the "Sag A*" black hole. Perhaps I let the "whirlpool" shape of the spiral galaxy bias my views in this regard.

    Thanks for the help...
     
  8. Mar 8, 2004 #7

    Nereid

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    The spiral shape of some galaxies has been an active area of astronomical research for nearly a century! Suffice it to say that the stars in a (spiral) galaxy travel round the centre of the galaxy in nice, Newtonian-looking orbits - relatively small eccentricity ellipses (some caveats: they also bob 'up' and 'down' around the plane of the galactic disk; motions of stars in interacting/colliding galaxies are much different!). The clouds of gas and dust (giant molecular clouds) aren't so lucky! They are frequently disrupted, by collisions with other such clouds, by evaporation from nearby hot stars, by shock fronts from supernovae, and so on.

    You've probably heard of barred spirals. It may be that the bar is important for keeping the central black hole well fed!
     
  9. Mar 8, 2004 #8
    Thanks, Nereid!

    I assume the "spiral" structure is due to the difference in angular velocity as the distance from the center increases, then? More of a "twisting" effect than the "vortex" I was previously assuming?
     
  10. Mar 8, 2004 #9

    Nereid

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  11. Mar 8, 2004 #10
    Last edited: May 2, 2004
  12. Mar 9, 2004 #11
    COOL, thank you all! My whole view of galaxies has been reconfigured!
     
  13. Mar 16, 2004 #12

    Nereid

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    Now all we need to do is introduce you to LSB (low surface brightness) galaxies, galaxies in collision (or merger), ellipticals and lenticulars, even galaxies with more than one supermassive black holes at their core! :wink:
     
  14. Mar 19, 2004 #13

    Phobos

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    Of course, the main cosmological theory is that there is no center of the universe, at least not in 3D space. So perhaps you meant "galaxy".
     
  15. Nov 3, 2004 #14
    sry i did mean galaxy

    In the Big Bang Theory there is a central origination point correct?
    If yes then..
    1)There should be a central point for all to originate from.
    2)Everything would expand from that point.
    Correct?
     
  16. Nov 3, 2004 #15

    selfAdjoint

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    Your premise is not correct. At a few microseconds after the initial singularity, the whole universe was a tiny space. The whole universe then expanded to be the universe we see today. No center.
     
  17. Nov 3, 2004 #16

    tony873004

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    I think that no matter where you are in the universe, you perceive yourself as being in the center. There are no civilizations claiming to live near the left edge of the universe.
     
  18. Nov 3, 2004 #17
    First, I did not mean an infinutely small center point, but a region that the universe is expanding from.
    Tony i don't believe that is what we are talking about, but applying human perseption is a part of science. Keep up the good work.
     
  19. Nov 3, 2004 #18

    selfAdjoint

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    According to the standard model of cosmology, the universe is expanding everywhere, not "from" any region or point.
     
  20. Nov 3, 2004 #19
    I have never thought of it by those terms. Its a consept that is very easy to grasp. Is the reason for this because we cannot find the remote region that the universe originates from, or because that is the only way we can define infinite expansion?
     
  21. Nov 4, 2004 #20

    selfAdjoint

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    It's the way the general relativity math presents the expansion to us, and is confirmed by our observations. Every volume of the universe is experiencing an expansion, in which the rate, which has its own time dependence, is proportional to the size of the volume too. So the space between the galaxies shows a noticible expansion, while the space between my ears doesn't.
     
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