Science

3D model of our Milky Way galaxy mapped like never before

3D model of our Milky Way galaxy mapped like never before”

We sit along an outer arm of a massive, spiralling disk of gas, dust, and a billion stars. The star icon indicates the sun. These efforts have resulted in maps that are decent but not great. And that map shows that the edges of the Milky Way bend slightly, giving it a warped S shape.

With the help of cosmic light fire Polish researchers have mapped the milky way very accurately.

"The problem astronomers have typically had in studying the Milky Way is that, because we reside in it, it is hard to see the parts that are far away - we can not move outside the Galaxy and look at it", said Dr. Radek Poleski, a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University and the University of Warsaw's Astronomical Observatory. "This is the first time we can use individual objects to show this in three dimensions", some, he said, "as distant as the expected boundary of the Galactic disk".

They combined optical and infrared data to determine the stars' pulsation periods and mapped the distribution of Cepheids and the associated young stellar populations across the Galaxy. The farther stars were from the galaxy's center, the more extreme the warp.

The Milky Way is "warped and twisted" and not flat as previously thought, according to researchers who have developed a large-scale three-dimensional (3D) map of our galaxy. These elderly stars are from a time much earlier in the Milky Way's life cycle, so they would provide another method to map the galaxy.

Richard de Grijs, an astronomer at Macquarie University and co-author on the Nature Astronomy study, said that both the previous study and the new study rely on Cepheids that sit on our side of the Milky Way.

To create the 3D map, Skowron and her colleagues charted the location of Cepheid variable stars.

The brightness of the Cepheids changes in a very regular pattern, with a well-defined period, that can range from several hours to several dozen days.

Using the periodic variations in their brightness, researchers said the distances to these stars can be precisely determined. They can then calculate distance by comparing that luminosity with how bright the star looks from Earth.

So Skowron and her team measured the distances between our sun and 2400 of these cepheid stars. "And numerous stars you see are in the Galactic disk - what we are studying in this work".

What caused this curvature is yet unknown although there are some possible explanations, including a near-collision with another galaxy and dark matter.

About 2.5 million light-years away, the Andromeda galaxy, is our Milky Way's largest galactic neighbour.

The Warsaw University team speculated that it might have been bent out of shape by past interactions with nearby galaxies. Younger stars appear to be clustered closer to the middle, and older stars are spread out across the edges. "So this is the most "real" map of the Milky Way".



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