Washington (DC) – The manner in which the Milky Way galaxy is depicted on television, in works of art, and in print makes most individuals think astronomers knew pretty much what the galaxy looks like. However, we’re now finding out it wasn’t so. Recently, it has been discovered that the size of the galaxy has actually been highly underestimated, and that its overall shape is notably different.
It has always been assumed that the Milky Way is much smaller than the Andromeda Galaxy, which is our nearest neighboring galaxy. A team of Harvard astrophysicists have now concluded that it’s actually 50% larger than it was believed in the past, and more than likely has four arms – not two. This startling revelation came following advanced measurements of how fast our galaxy rotates.
It’s currently impossible to determine exactly what the galaxy looks like, as we live well within it and gaining a proper perspective is all but impossible. The easiest way to measure it is to measure the quickness that the galaxy rotates, and then compare those readings to how much mass would have to exist in effort to generate that much velocity. Sounds simple, right?
The Harvard team discovered that the Milk Way is currently rotating at a speed of 600,000 miles per hour, which is 100,000 miles per hour faster than estimates from the past. This math equates to a 50% mass increase over what was initially reported.
A drawback to this finding is that there is a greater potential for collision with the Andromeda Galaxy, which has been known for some time to be “stuck with us” rather than moving further and further away as other galaxies are. It appears also that the increase in mass may cause a collision sooner rather than later.
New radio telescopes have allowed scientists to make measurements that are more precise than ever before possible. The scientists use something called “trigonometric parallax,” which is similar to what surveyors do on Earth when plotting out tracts of land.
Still, there is a real unanswered question as to exactly what the Milky Way looks like. Scientists have their ideas, their beliefs and possibly even their wishes figured in to current models.
But the truth is this: The very foundation of the massive star cluster we live in (the Milky Way galaxy) has now changed, or so it appears to us. This puts us at TG Daily at the ready to write a new article when, in a few years, scientists determine that we’re all living on the back of a giant flea, living on the back of a giant dog, in the giant back yard of some giant home where the giant people living there have the same problems as all of us. In fact, we look forward to writing that article a lot!