Research

Scientists: Our galaxy is like the English letter S

All of our modern understanding of our formMilky Way galaxies were based on observations of other galaxies, as well as calculations of the distance to the objects that are in them. Therefore, scientists have long believed that our galaxy is similar to others and has the shape of a flat disk. However, the completed six-year study of Polish astronomers has shown that our galaxy is not at all flat. It has a curved and curved shape similar to the English letter S. Scientists have proved this by creating the most accurate and large-scale three-dimensional model of the Milky Way.

How do scientists create a map of our galaxy?

To create the most accurate three-dimensionalPolish astronomers from the University of Warsaw made a model of our galaxy using telescopes for several years to observe a special class of variable stars inside our Milky Way. They are called Cepheids. These are very young stars several times larger than our Sun and shining thousands and tens of thousands of times brighter than our luminary.

See also: 10 amazing discoveries related to the Milky Way galaxy

Cepheids have one interesting feature -they change their brightness (flicker) at a constant interval. Thanks to this, astronomers call them the beacons of the galaxy and use them as peculiar landmarks. Scientists explain that information about the frequency of the twinkling of a star can tell them how much light it emits in general and how much of this light reaches the Earth. Based on this data, astronomers can determine how far the star's light needed to travel to reach us.

What does our galaxy look like?


The frame of the computer model shows that the disk of our galaxy is bent closer to the edges (side view)

Scientists say earlier attempts to createthe Milky Way map was very inaccurate and incomplete because it was created on the basis of limited observations. In the course of their research, Polish scientists were able to calculate the distance to more than 2,400 such variable stars scattered throughout our galaxy. Based on the data on the distances to these objects, astrophysicists were able to create a three-dimensional computer model of our galaxy.

Three-dimensional computer model of our galaxy. Dots mark variable stars Cepheids. Big and bright yellow dot - our Sun

Our map shows that the Milky Way discnot at all flat. It has a curved, curved shape. For the first time, thanks to individual celestial bodies inside our galaxy, we can show this on a three-dimensional model, ”says one of the authors of the study, Przhemek Mroz.

How big is our galaxy?

Scientists can not yet answer exactly whatan event or phenomenon could create such a curvature of our galaxy. But there are several assumptions about this. Perhaps this led to the collision of the Milky Way with another galaxy in the distant past. According to other assumptions, the answer may be associated with the so-called mysterious dark matter and its gravity. Further astronomical studies will establish the exact cause of the observed phenomenon.

This is interesting: How do people colonize our galaxy?

The latest calculations of scientists say that the sizeOur Milky Way is 150,000 light-years. In our galaxy can be from 200 to 400 billion different stars and at least 100 billion different planets. In general, research work - no end. By discovering new cepheid stars, scientists will be able to more accurately map our own galaxy.

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