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50 Years Ago

Huge Galactic Explosion

Excerpt from the October 5, 1963, issue of Science News Letter

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The most gigantic explosion ever known in the universe, the tremendous detonation of the heart of a distant galaxy of millions of stars, has been discovered. The galaxy, known to astronomers as M-82, is still in the process of explosion, with material rushing out at velocities up to 20 million miles per hour. Matter equal to five million suns is involved in the cataclysm. The explosion started 1.5 million years ago, about when the Ice Age existed here on earth. Light has just reached earth, for the galaxy is 60 billion billion miles (10 million light-years) away. Captured on a special photograph taken with the world’s largest telescope, the 200-inch Hale telescope on Mt. Palomar, Calif., the evidence is that tremendous jets of matter, stretching out 60 million billion miles (10,000 light years), are streaming from the galaxy’s nucleus.


UPDATE: The wheat congressmen’s bill didn’t become law. But grain alcohol, or ethanol, eventually ended up in the nation’s fuel supply. About 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is now used to produce the ethanol that is blended with gasoline to fuel vehicles. American farmers planted more than 97 million acres of corn in 2013, up from about 69 million acres in 1963–64. 

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