First 3D map of Milky Way re­veals warped galaxy

The Asian Age - - Science + Health -

Mel­bourne, Feb. 5: The Milky Way’s disk of stars is “warped” and twisted, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists who have built the first ac­cu­rate 3D map of Earth’s home galaxy.

Re­searchers from the Mac­quarie Univer­sity in Aus­tralia and the Chinese Acad­emy of Sciences have found for the first time that our so­lar sys­tem is any­thing but sta­ble and flat.

In­stead, it be­comes in­creas­ingly ' warped' and twisted far away from the Milky Way's centre, ac­cord­ing to the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Na­ture As­tron­omy.

From a great dis­tance, our galaxy would look like a thin disk of stars that or­bit once ev­ery few hun­dred mil­lion years around its cen­tral re­gion, where hun­dreds of bil­lions of stars pro­vide the grav­i­ta­tional “glue” to hold it all to­gether.

How­ever, the pull of grav­ity be­comes weaker far away from the Milky Way’s in­ner re­gions. In the galaxy’s far outer disk, the hydrogen atoms mak­ing up most of the Milky Way’s gas disk are no longer con­fined to a thin plane, but they give the disk an S- like, warped ap­pear­ance.

“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 Xiao­dian Chen, a re­searcher at the Chinese Acad­emy of Sciences in Bei­jing.

Re­searchers al­lowed the team to de­velop the first ac­cu­rate 3D pic­ture of our Milky Way.

Clas­si­cal Cepheids are young stars that are some four to 20 times as mas­sive as our Sun and up to 100,000 times as bright.

Such high stellar masses im­ply that they live fast and die young,

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