Curve and twisted: astronomers showed the shape of our galaxy

For the first time in history created the most accurate map of the milky Way

Evgeniy Opanasenko

Today, 08:35

Кривая и скрученная: астрономы показали форму нашей галактики

Created the most accurate 3D map of the milky way to date

A team of Polish astronomers have created the most accurate three-dimensional map of the milky Way to date. The map was discovered amazing the distortions and irregularities along the galactic disk, which was far from ideal.

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Our location is deep inside the giant structure, so from Earth we can not see our galaxy from the outside, watching her form the inside only. Tight space, stars, gas and dust further complicate surveillance. Despite these limitations, we still know that the milky Way is a spiral galaxy with a width of about 120 thousand light years, and that we are at a distance of about 27 thousand light years from the galactic center, located in Sagittarius A*.

Кривая и скрученная: астрономы показали форму нашей галактики

The milky Way was not as flat as a pancake, and “crooked and twisted”

For many years astronomers have made various attempts to map the milky Way, including counting the distance to the stars, radio observations of molecules in the gas and even the extrapolation of similar spiral galaxies nearby. These efforts have led to the emergence of cards, but very conditional. The best way to map the milky Way is to directly measure our distance to a large sample of stars scattered throughout the galactic disk. Even better — to select the stars that belong to a particular, well-studied type to ensure accuracy of observations.

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Using the above strategy, a team of scientists from the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw have made the most accurate 3D map of the milky Way to date. Astronomer Dorota Skowron led the study, which is published today in the journal Science.

Кривая и скрученная: астрономы показали форму нашей галактики

Our milky Way like galaxy ESO 510-G13

To create an accurate three-dimensional map, Skowron and her colleagues have mapped the location of variable stars Cepheid. Young pulsating supergiant ideal for this study because the brightness is changing very evenly. Ultimately, the location of the Cepheids in the milky Way is more precisely defined than other types of stars, and that’s exactly what was needed for the mapping project.

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To create a new card we used a sample of more than 2400 of the Cepheids, most of which were identified using the optical gravitational licensing (OGLE), which monitors the brightness of nearly 2 billion stars. In total, the researchers observed the galactic disk within 6 years, making 206 of thousands of images of the sky.

We got the most accurate punishment of the milky Way.

According to co-author Przemek Mrusa, improved 3D-map shows S-shaped distorted structure of the stellar disk of our galaxy. The milky Way was not as flat as a pancake, and “crooked and twisted”.

Кривая и скрученная: астрономы показали форму нашей галактики

The fact that our galaxy is slightly warped, has been known in the past, but a new study further characterizes a surprising degree of these distortions. As shown by new research, this deformation begins at distances in excess of 25 000 light years from the galactic core, and becomes stronger with distance.

“If we could see our galaxy from the side, we would have noticed her strong deformation. A star located at a distance 60 thousand light years from the center of the milky Way, located at an altitude of 5 thousand light-years above or below the galactic plane,” explains Dorota Skowron.

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The new study also showed that the thickness of the milky Way varies everywhere. Our galaxy becomes thicker with distance from the nucleus. For example, our place in the galactic disk has a thickness of about 500 light years, and at the outer edges – as much as 3000 light years. The cause of the distortion, astronomers call the interaction with neighbouring galaxies, intergalactic gas, and possibly even dark matter.

We will remind that earlier scientists answered the question of why the space is cold and the Sun hot. And recently, astronomers have recorded the “cosmic birth” in the Universe.

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