Discover the Milky Way

By Gabriella Munoz

How heavy and which shape has the Milky Way?

After analysing measurements from different advanced radio telescopes, including Japan’s Very Long Baseline Interferometry, astronomers have found that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is 20% larger than previously estimated.

The researchers determined this after confirming the distance from the Sun to the centre of our galaxy is 26,100 light-years, and that the galactic rotation velocity, which is determined by the balance with galactic gravity, in the solar system is 240 kilometres per second (km/s), not 220 km/s as previously thought.

The new measurements suggest the Milky Way actually contains more dark matter, something that can impact the information we currently have about this spiral galaxy.

With today’s advanced radio telescopes it is possible to get a glimpse of the Milky Way from the inside and generate a galactic map of the galaxy, which will allows us to get better acquainted with our galaxy.

Source: [NAOJ]


Keyword: Dark matter
Astronomers believe that about 70% of the universe is dark energy, 25% dark matter and 5% normal matter. Although dark matter cannot be seen with telescopes, astronomers say it is a type of matter that doesn’t emit or absorbs light. We know it exists because of its gravitational effects on visible matter. Watch a 17-minute Ted Talk that tells us more about dark matter and our universe here.