All our modern idea of the shape of our galaxy, the milky Way was based on observing other galaxies, as well as the distance calculations to objects who are in them. Therefore, scientists have long believed that our galaxy is similar to the other and has the shape of a flat disk. However, ending a six-year study of Polish astronomers has shown that our galaxy is not flat. It has a curved and twisted form, similar to the English letter S. Scientists have proven it by creating the most accurate and large-scale three-dimensional model of the milky Way.
How scientists created a map of our galaxy?
In order to create the most accurate three-dimensional model of our galaxy Polish astronomers from the University of Warsaw for several years with telescopes were observing a special class of variable stars inside our milky Way. They are called Cepheids. This is a very young star several times more than our Sun and shining in the thousands and tens of thousands of times brighter than our sun.
Cepheids have one interesting feature – they change in brightness (flicker) with a constant interval. Because of this the astronomers call them beacons of the galaxy and use them as a reference. Scientists explain that the information about the frequency of twinkling stars could tell them about how much light it emits in General and how much of this light reaches the Ground. Based on these data, astronomers can determine the distance required to overcome the light of stars to reach us.
Looks like our galaxy?
On the frame of the computer model shows that the disk of our galaxy is curved closer to the edges (side view)
Scientists say that earlier attempts to create a map of the milky Way was very inaccurate and incomplete, because it was created on the basis of limited observations. In the course of his research, Polish scientists were able to calculate the distance to more than 2,400 variable stars scattered throughout our galaxy. On the basis of the distances to these objects for astrophysics have been able to create three-dimensional computer model of our galaxy.
Three-dimensional computer model of our galaxy. Dots indicate variable stars Cepheid. Big and bright yellow dot is the Sun
Our map shows that the disk of the milky Way is not flat. It has a curved, twisted shape. For the first time thanks to the separate heavenly bodies inside our galaxy, we can show that the three-dimensional model, says one of the study’s authors Przemek Mroz.
How big is our galaxy?
Scientists still can not exactly answer what event or phenomenon could create such a distortion of our galaxy. But at this point there are several assumptions. Perhaps this resulted in 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 help to determine the exact cause of the observed phenomenon.
Recent scientists say that the size of our milky Way is 150,000 light-years. In our galaxy can be from 200 to 400 billion different stars and at least 100 billion planets. In General, research work – no end. Opening new star Cepheid scientists will be able to be more precise mapping of our own galaxy.