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Space Earth NASA Science Technology

Astronomers No Longer Need To Avoid the "Zone of Avoidance" 75

An anonymous reader writes: If you want to look out into the Universe, all you need to do is gather the light it gives off. Unless, of course, there's something in the way. For about 20% of the sky, that's exactly the story. In our own Milky Way galaxy, the neutral gas and dust block most of the visible light everywhere we look, preventing us from observing the Universe beyond. However, although the gas and dust might block visible light, longer wavelengths like radio and infrared can pass right through. Recently NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission mapped the entire sky in the infrared, including the entire galactic plane. It not only found many background galaxies, but it gave us a new window into what's possible. Perhaps, with future missions, we'll discover the cause of the "great attractor" phenomenon after all.
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Astronomers No Longer Need To Avoid the "Zone of Avoidance"

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  • by frooddude ( 148993 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @04:30PM (#51536929)

    Still a Forbes StartsWithABang link.

    Is this the only place /. can get it's astronomy?

    • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @04:34PM (#51536955)
      now that Forbes blocks Adblockers from proceeding past the stupid splash screen I no longer bother with them, It's nice really that their attempt to protect their advertising revenue has now protected me from their dumb website.
      • Ditto.

        I'll go else where to read _real_ Astronomy news, not some ShillWithABang.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        now that Forbes blocks Adblockers from proceeding past the stupid splash screen I no longer bother with them, It's nice really that their attempt to protect their advertising revenue has now protected me from their dumb website.

        It's a win-win situation. You get used to not reading their crappy site and they don't have to waste bandwidth on you.
        I love solutions where everybody benefits.

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      Why do people hate SwaB links? They usually have pretty good science content written in a way that most people can readily understand.

      No, not exactly an academic journal, and yeah, fuck Forbes, but I don't think it realistic to expect Slashdot (or any mostly ad supported site) to blacklist another site just because they use an anti-adblocker.

      So, other than the standard "we just love to bitch", why all the hate?
      • Because the Forbes site has been shown to serve malware in the ads that they serve, and they require you to disable adblockers, which means you will get malware if you visit their site and turn off your adblockers.
        • by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Thursday February 18, 2016 @05:10PM (#51537235) Homepage Journal
          Link is updated to non Forbes
        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @07:16PM (#51538341)

          No, that can't explain it. The annoyance with StartsWithABang started far before that happened. People gave him a lot of grief when he was simply linking to his own blog.

          I'll admit I tend to dislike seeing a member that does NOTHING but post submissions to the site, never even engaging in the discussion that follows. To me, that smacks of "I'm trying to get my visitor count up, but I don't give a shit about what the members have to say." Maybe others don't agree, but I probably wouldn't mind if an author regularly engaged with the community after posting summaries and links to their own articles, so long as they were interesting and relevant to this demographic. If you check out StartsWithABang's history, it was almost 100% submissions. He never appeared interested in discussing the articles he wrote, so it's not hard to understand why he didn't exactly endear himself to the community.

          Contrast that to our new overlords, who have shown to be actually willing to talk to people here, and importantly, to listen to what they have to say in return. That's the essence of slashdot. The news and articles are just a way to get the discussions rolling.

          • Personally, I liked startswithabang medium.com articles -- but can't stand forbes links. Granted lots of people hated his pre-forbes submissions but not all of us.

            • I actually liked some of his articles, as they seems reasonably approachable for lay-persons like myself who are mildly interested in astronomy. A lot of people complained about medium.com, but I never quite understood what the beef was there. As I stated, my issue is with people that post articles and never follow up with any discussion, and he's sort of a poster-child for that. But on the "don't care" to "flaming tirade" scale of concerns, it's still pretty low.

              I mean, he's certainly no Bennett Haselto

              • I agree, I didn't mind the Medium.com articles - yes, they pushed the envelope of current browsers with fancy CSS transitions and large bandwidth images - but the articles were informative and pretty.

                I also agree that submitters should engage in the discussion, but to be fair, Medium.com had it's own discussion. Of course /. is a much better forum, but it didn't bother me that much. It seems no different to me if some random AC had posted the links to StartsWithABang articles.

                Even with Bennett's articles, i

      • by g01d4 ( 888748 )

        Why do people hate SwaB links?

        His self-promoting posts are deceptively dressed up as news when they're not. The real question is how to they make it to the main page?

      • No, not exactly an academic journal, and yeah, fuck Forbes, but I don't think it realistic to expect Slashdot (or any mostly ad supported site) to blacklist another site just because they use an anti-adblocker.

        So, other than the standard "we just love to bitch", why all the hate?

        Well, we can't RTFA while using an adblocker. And we should be able to RTFA, otherwise this is just clickbait and get to read someone's already formed opinion.

        Or stop using an adblocker, which is a condom for my computer. Ind if I have to allow that bandwidth hogging, malware serving sewage on my computer, I'll stop using the internet.

        And that, Charlie Brown, is the real reason for all the hate. The internet is broken. We're trying to help fix it. That television in the living room - I'm not required t

    • The link takes me to EarthSky.org so either Slashdot editors changed the link or you are full of shit.

      Occam's Razor says Slashdot editors don't edit so well you can see what's left

  • An Aside (Score:5, Funny)

    by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Thursday February 18, 2016 @04:32PM (#51536941) Homepage Journal
    Videos on Slashdot are gone.
    • Videos on Slashdot are gone.

      It's a start.

      I imagine it on a 1000 point scale.

      A score of 1000 is perfection, Slashdot gets 5.5 million viewers per month [wikipedia.org], it's one of the top rated sites on the net, we lead by example and the rest of the world comes here for intelligent insightful analysis (as we were in 2006).

      A score of 0 is rock bottom, Slashdot gets 1800 viewers per month [alexa.com], no one cares about us any more, a handful of stalwart holdouts remain from the glory days (as we are today).

      Clearly, some past decisions have hurt the site and undo

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        That 1800 isn't per month, it's a global ranking. It's still bad, but it's not as bad.

        • That 1800 isn't per month, it's a global ranking. It's still bad, but it's not as bad.

          Yep, my bad.

          It wasn't on purpose, I'll try to be more thorough in the future.

      • Low Alexa score isn't rock bottom, it means Slashdot readers are educated enough not to install spyware.

    • Great. Next step: ban Ethan Siegel submissions that point to a known website that serves ads with malware in them.
    • by jlp2097 ( 223651 )

      Great news indeed!

      Signed,
      a lot of old farts who still keep and kept reading (despite the DICE stuff)

    • by imidan ( 559239 )

      I have little sense of what the true popularity of the video posts was. From the comments sections, they seem like they were pretty universally reviled. It's great when you can make a simple change to the site that involves doing less work and spending less money while eliminating a feature that everyone hated anyway.

    • by sootman ( 158191 )

      whipslash/CowboyNeal in 2016! Seriously, this is awesome.

      • Re:An Aside (Score:4, Interesting)

        by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Thursday February 18, 2016 @10:21PM (#51539135) Homepage Journal
        I'll upvote that. Glad people are happy with the removal of videos. Big (overdue) things to come soon: https, unicode support
        • You seriously got me to dust off an account started in ~2001 that that hadn't bothered to log in for 3 years. I gave up on slashdot for a long time. I'm cautiously optimistic that you might be able to right this ship.

          Thanks for what you've done so far. It really goes a long way to reassuring us that someone actually cares after 7+ years of neglect.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @04:39PM (#51536987) Homepage
    its bears remembering that while the zone of avoidance may be removed from concern, other zones are still legitimately relevant to the night sky. among them:
    the zone of unease: rather quite uncomfortable. best not even to mention it.
    the zone of overbearing parenting: we just think it would be better for you to not spend to much time in it. ok? have we made ourselves clear?
    Autozone: not terrible unless youre after something important and in which case youll spend a very long time indeed searching until you either run out of patience or buy new wiper blades.
    the zone: actually a mis-calibration. some orion telescopes will erroneously track to this small strip club in hollywood, california. this setting however can observe most partial solar eclipses visible as well from Germany's Neumayer Station, so, not a total loss...
    • And those are only the well-known ones. There is also:

      the dead zone: astronomers have actually burned out that section.
      the forbidden zone: stars and other astronomical objects younger than 18my, wearing no (or only see-thru) nebulae.
      the twilight zone: mostly emo teenagers, it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.
      the war zone: another race fighting a desperate war against a remorseless foe!

  • by Convector ( 897502 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @04:42PM (#51537015)

    It's just a name. Like the "Death Zone" or the "Zone of No Return". All the zones have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror.

  • Stop with the Forbes links already, this site is horrible.

  • Ethan Siegel submitted this article. It goes to Forbes, which is known to serve malware in their advertisements. You have been warned. Slashdot needs to ban Ethan from submitting his spam articles that point to a malware-ridden site.
  • Forbes has chosen to speed their journey into irrelevance with their policies. Don't force Slashdot to follow them down that hole by becoming dependent upon their content.
  • First, while WISE is an improvement in the whole "zone of avoidance" phenomenon, it's not perfect. It's resolution was rather low, so even though it could peer through the dust, the glare of foreground stars in the Milky Way still hid a significant fraction of the sky.

    Second, there's a proposed solution to the "great attractor" already. It's the galaxy super cluster named Laniakea.

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @05:09PM (#51537233) Homepage Journal

    The source
    NASA Releases New WISE Mission Catalog of Entire Infrared Sky
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pa... [nasa.gov]
    WISE Home Page
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise/n... [nasa.gov]

  • by qubezz ( 520511 ) on Thursday February 18, 2016 @05:17PM (#51537279)

    Astronomers no longer need to avoid...? Really? I'll just point my telescope there and see all the new galaxies now.

    If you don't want three levels of dumbing-down, here is the actual study, PDF:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/lp22... [dropbox.com]

    The Parkes HI Zone of Avoidance Survey

    Abstract: A blind HI survey of the extragalactic sky behind the southern Milky Way has been conducted with the multibeam receiver on the 64-m Parkes radio telescope. The survey covers the Galactic longitude range 212 degrees to 36 degrees and Galactic latitudes |b| less than 5 degrees to an rms sensitivity of 6 mJy per beam per 27 kmsâ'1 channel, and yields 883 galaxies to a recessional velocity of 12,000 kmsâ'1. The survey covers the sky within the HI Parkes All-Sky Survey (HIPASS) area to greater sensitivity, finding lower HI-mass galaxies at all distances, and probing more completely the large-scale structures at and beyond the distance of the Great Attractor. Fifty-one percent of the HI detections have an optical/near-infrared (NIR) counterpart in the literature. A further 27% have new counterparts found in existing, or newly obtained, optical/NIR 1 images. The counterpart rate drops in regions of high foreground stellar crowding and extinction, and for low-HI mass objects. Only 8% of all counterparts have a previous optical redshift measurement. The HI sources are found independently of Galactic extinction, although the detection rate drops in regions of high Galactic continuum. The survey is incomplete below a flux integral of approximately 3.1 Jy kmsâ'1 and mean flux density of approximately 21 mJy, with 75% and 81% of galaxies being above these limits, respectively. Taking into account dependence on both flux and velocity width, and constructing a scaled dependence on the flux integral limit with velocity width (w0.74), completeness limits of 2.8 Jy kmsâ'1 and 17 mJy are determined, with 92% of sources above these limits. A notable new galaxy is HIZOA J1353â'58, a possible companion to the Circinus galaxy. Merging this catalog with the similarly-conducted northern extension (Donley et al. 2005), large-scale structures are delineated, including those within the Puppis and Great Attractor regions, and the Local Void. Several newly-identified structures are revealed here for the first time. Three new galaxy concentrations (NW1, NW2 and NW3) are key in confirming the diagonal crossing of the Great Attractor Wall between the Norma cluster and the CIZA J1324.7-5736 cluster. Further contributors to the general mass overdensity in that area are two new clusters (CW1 and CW2) in the nearer Centaurus Wall, one of which forms part of the striking 180â--¦ (100hâ'1Mpc) long filament that dominates the southern sky at velocities of â¼ 3000 kmsâ'1, and the suggestion of a further Wall at the Great Attractor distance at slightly higher longitudes.

  • Perhaps, with future missions, we'll discover the cause of the "great attractor" phenomenon after all.

    It's Jeebus.

  • All the zones have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror!

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    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Sorry wrong article. That a first. I should get some coffee. Obviously it is too early in the morning for writing comments. Never mind.

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