Researchers from the University of Warsaw have managed to achieve an impressive milestone after they constructed the most accurate 3-D model of the Milky Way. To complete this feat, they gathered valuable information from a select group of pulsating stars.
It is not a surprise that most people will tend to believe that our galaxy has the shape of a flat spiral since suggestive images have appeared in a large number of textbooks. According to recent data, the Milky Way is far from being flat, and some researchers compared it to the shape of pizza dough which has been tossed into the air by a pizzaiolo (the specialized cook who prepares pizza in a pizzeria).
The complicated map was created with data collected by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, a complex initiative which focuses on surveying stars. A significant role was played by data related to Cepheids, a remarkable type of pulsating stars.
The Most Accurate 3-D Model Of The Milky Way
Cepheids have been used in previous studies due to their uncanny ability to pulse at regular intervals and the fact that the pulses are very bright. This allows researchers to measure their real brightness and compare it to the level of brightness, which can be perceived on Earth, offering valuable data about the distance between them and our planet.
Over 2,430 Cepheids were explored during the study and placed on a virtual map, facilitating the creation of an advanced 3-D representation of our galaxy. Since the researchers used direct measurements of the distance between stars, the new model is the most accurate one in history.
By observing the newly-created model, the researchers were able to discern the shape of the Milky Way and concluded the flatness stars to disappear as the distance from the sun starts to grow. It is also mentioned that Cepheids tend to gather into clusters, a trait which infers that they have formed at the same time or a short interval. The new data will pave the way for future research.