Locating the Center of the Universe Using Globular Clusters

4.2 based on 92 ratings

Updated on Nov 19, 2012

4.2 based on 92 ratings

Updated on Nov 19, 2012

2011 VIRTUAL SCIENCE FAIR ENTRY
Abstract
  • Purpose
    • The purpose of this experiment is to find the galactic center of the Milky Way Galaxy using globular clusters.
  • Procedure
    • List all known globular clusters in the Milky Way.
    • Choose three constellations that consist of the most globular clusters.
    • Open Google Earth and go to “Sky View”.
    • Type in the name of the three constellations.
    • Zoom out until all three are in view.
    • Download Stars and Globular Cluster app in Google Earth.
    • Unclick “Stars” and click “Globular Cluster”.
    • Click “Orbit”.
    • Observe the orbits of the globular clusters.
    • Predict where the galactic center is based on the rotations of each globular cluster.
    • Record Right Ascension and Declination.
    • Repeat eight more times to ensure accuracy.
  • Conclusion
    • In conclusion, the purpose of this experiment was to locate the Galactic Center using globular clusters. My hypothesis stated that by implementing the orbits of a globular cluster, one could predict where the Galactic Center lies.The experiment completed was very accurate in astronomical terms. All results came within range of the Galactic Center’s actual coordinates.
Type

Physical Science

Grade

11th Grade

Difficulty of the Project
Hard
Cost

Approximately $15

Safety Issues

There was no safety issues associated with this project.

Time Taken to Complete the Project

Three months

The project was to locate the Galactic Center of the Milky Way Galaxy using the orbits of Globular Clusters.

Materials used in this experiment are as follows:

  • Notebook
  • Google Earth
    • The notebook used was a house hold item. Google earth was downloaded from the internet.

The purpose of this experiment is to find the galactic center of the Milky Way Galaxy using globular clusters.

The hypothesis of the experiment states that if you could locate globular clusters orbiting the galactic center, one could hypothesize the location of the center.

Scientists and researchers have always experimented trying to accurately pinpoint locations in space. By incorporating the orbits and velocities of globular clusters, one could hypothesize the location of the Milky Way’s galactic center.

  • Galaxy – any of the very large groups of stars and associated matter that are found throughout the universe; matter in space
  • Constellation – the configuration of stars especially at one's birth
  • Right Ascension – measure of an angle that increases towards the east; recorded in hours, minutes, and seconds
  • Declination – measured in degrees north or south of the celestial equator; recorded in degrees, minute, and seconds of arc
  • Globular Cluster – extremely tight, spherical groups of old stars

Determining the velocities of Globular Clusters around the Galactic Center.

Experimental procedure is as follows:

  • List all known globular clusters in the Milky Way.
  • Choose three constellations that consist of the most globular clusters.
  • Open Google Earth and go to “Sky View”.
  • Type in the name of the three constellations.
  • Zoom out until all three are in view.
  • Download Stars and Globular Cluster app in Google Earth.
  • Unclick “Stars” and click “Globular Cluster”.
  • Click “Orbit”.
  • Observe the orbits of the globular clusters.
  • Predict where the galactic center is based on the rotations of each globular cluster.
  • Record Right Ascension and Declination.
  • Repeat eight more times to ensure accuracy.

The results of this experiment have shown to be very accurate in astronomical aspects. Most predictions of where the galactic center lay were very close to the actual coordinates. RA and Dec. are used within the results. For those who are not familiar with the meanings, RA is Right Ascension, and Dec. means Declination. Right Ascension is similar to longitude. They both measure an angle that increases towards the east. It is most commonly measured in measured in hours, minutes, and seconds. Declination is similar to latitude. It is measured in degrees north or south of the celestial equator.

Declination is often measured in degrees, minute, and seconds of arc.

Trial
RA
Dec
1
17h33m38.41s
-30°20'43.28"
2
17h43m49.80s
-28°12'11.95"
3
17h44m12.97s
-29°29'12.29"
4
17h47m58.56s
-29°47'38.58"
5
17h45m28.76s
-28°57'06.42"
6
17h42m14.24s
-28°30'41.10"
7
17h52m46.46s
-29°34'31.08"
8
17h48m30.31s
-28°36'17.09"
9
17h49m13.12s
-29°06'00.13"
Actual Coordinates
RA
Dec
17h45m39.96s
29°00'28.10"
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
Total Seconds
RA 1
17
33
38.41
63218.41
RA 2
17
43
49.8
63829.8
RA 3
17
44
12.97
63852.97
RA 4
17
47
58.56
64078.56
RA 5
17
45
28.76
63928.76
RA 6
17
42
14.24
63734.24
RA 7
17
52
46.46
64366.46
RA 8
17
48
30.31
64110.31
RA 9
17
49
13.12
64153.12
Average Seconds
63919.18
Standard Deviation
326.82
Average With Standard Deviation (Error Factor)
63919.18±326.82
Degree
Arc Minutes
Arc Seconds
Total Arc Seconds

Dec. 1

-30
20
43.28
-3043.28

Dec. 2

-28
12
11.95
-2411.95

Dec. 3

-29
29
12.29
-3492.29

Dec. 4

-29
47
38.58
-4598.58
Dec. 5
-28
57
6.42
-5106.42

Dec. 6

-28
30
41.1
-3521.10

Dec. 7

-29
34
31.08
-3811.08

Dec. 8

-28
36
17.09
-3857.09

Dec. 9

-29
6
0.13
-2100.13
Average Arc Seconds
-3549.10
Standard Deviation
958.03
Average With Standard Deviation (Error Factor)
-3549.10±958.03

In conclusion, the purpose of this experiment was to locate the Galactic Center using globular clusters. My hypothesis stated that by implementing the orbits of a globular cluster, one could predict where the Galactic Center lies.The experiment completed was very accurate in astronomical terms. All results came within range of the Galactic Center’s actual coordinates.

The main error statement for this experiment is that Google Earth’s “Sky” mode was not accurate in depicting the orbits and locations of the globular clusters. Another error would be a mathematical error in calculating the results.

I would change the experiment by using more sophisticated materials.

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