Astronomers have recently revealed the first accurate three-dimensional map of our galaxy, revealing the Milky Way’s true, warped and twisted shape.
So, we now know that the Milky Way isn’t flat.
Scientists from the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia have published a new study in the journal Nature Astronomy revealing an unprecedented 3D map of the galaxy we live in.
The new cosmic chart was made out of 1,339 large pulsating stars, each up to 100,000 times brighter than our sun.
Until now, scientists have maintained the idea that our galaxy was a flat, spiral, home to around 300 billion stars.
Our solar system occupies a small, insignificant spot on one of the galaxy’s spiral arms.
Now, a new study has revealed that the shape of our galaxy is much stranger than previously thought.
Astronomers have revealed that in reality, the Milky Way Galaxy appears to be warped, and becomes increasingly twisted the further away stars are from its galactic center.
Scientists maintain that our galaxy has become warped due to the torque created from the spinning galaxy’s densely packed inner disc of stars.
“We usually think of spiral galaxies as being quite flat, like Andromeda which you can easily see through a telescope,” explains Professor Richard de Grijs, a co-author and astronomer from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
The Milky Way for example, when observed from far away looks like a massive, thin disk of stars, that spin around the central region every few hundred million years.
The 300 Billion stars, as well as the elusive dark matter act as a gravitational glue, that holds the galaxy in a compact structure.
The galaxy is ‘warped’ due to the hydrogen clouds in the outermost parts of the Milky Way.
An that’s due to the chnge of gravitational pull, far from the Galaxy’s inner region, causing the Milky Way’s nely found ‘s-shaped warp’.
“It is notoriously difficult to determine distances from the Sun to parts of the Milky Way’s outer gas disk without having a clear idea of what that disk actually looks like,” said Dr. Chen Xiaodian, a researcher at NAOC and lead author of the article.
“However, we recently published a new catalog of well-behaved variable stars known as classical Cepheids, for which distances as accurate as 3 to 5% can be determined.”
But the twisted nature of the Milky Way isn’t unique to our home galaxy.
Astronomer shave revealed observing dozens of other galaxies in the universe with similar progressively twisted spiral patterns in their outermost regions.