Science & Tech

South Pole telescope maps heart of Milky Way

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Results suggest we are headed for some celestial fireworks

Research results obtained by a team of astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) led by Chris Martin and Antony Stark suggest that we are headed for some celestial fireworks. Sometime in the next 300 million years, the galactic center will experience a dramatic burst of star formation and will shine with the light of thousands of newborn suns. The effects of these starbursts will be dramatic. “Many of the stars that form will be very massive and short-lived,” says Stark. “They’ll quickly use up their fuel and explode as supernovae. Right now, we see one supernova in our galaxy about every 100 years. When the starburst happens, we’ll see one supernova every year.”