The Most Recent Calculation Of Milky Way’s Mass Completely Changed What Was Known About Our Galaxy
It seems that now, experts have the most accurate measurements of the size and mass of the Milky Way that have ever been calculated.
The galaxy is much bigger
It turns out that the galaxy is way bigger than previously thought.
It’s about 1.5 trillion Suns’ worth of mass within a radius of 129,000 light-years, according to ScienceAlert.
This is more than twice as much as the previous estimates were claiming. A 2016 study said that the Milky Way was estimated at around 700 billion solar masses.
If you are wondering what has changed, well, now, there’s the ESA’s Gaia mission, a dedicated project to accurately map the Milky Way in three dimensions.
This also provides the most detailed map of our home galaxy that has ever been made and has been refining the present knowledge.
Mixing Gaia info with Hubble space telescope observations
It seems that by mixing Gaia data with info from the Hubble Space Telescope observations, a research team has been able to infer the size of the galaxy and mass based on the orbital motion of groups of stars which are called globular clusters.
Gaia and Hubble have combined observations over a decade, and they have now offered more accurate measurements of the motion of these globular clusters in the outer reaches of the Milky Way.
“The more massive a galaxy, the faster its clusters move under the pull of its gravity,” said astrophysicist Wyn Evans of the University of Cambridge in the UK.
“Most previous measurements have found the speed at which a cluster is approaching or receding from Earth, that is the velocity along our line of sight. However, we were able to also measure the sideways motion of the clusters, from which the total velocity, and consequently the galactic mass, can be calculated.”
We recommend that you read the complete article on Science Alert.
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