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Milky Way's Width Double of Current Estimates?

Milky Way's Width Double of Current Estimates?

(NASA)

By    |   Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:26 AM

Could the Milky Way's width be double what it is currently estimated to be?

It is possible, astronomers said after measuring the stars located at the very edges of our galaxy and realizing that they are much farther away than initially predicted, Popular Mechanics reported.

To understand these findings, we first need to understand the Milky Way's composition, which is made up of a central disk with spiraling arms that are peppered with stars and planets, as well as an outer halo with distant stars.

The edge of our galaxy is located where the outer halo of sparsely populated stars begins, with most of the Milky Way contained within the disc.

Researchers previously thought that the disk ends and the halo begins at about 15 kiloparsecs, or 50,000 light-years from the center, but a new study suggests these calculations are far off.

Instead, astronomers from the Astrof�sica de Canarias in the Canary Islands and the National Astronomical Observatories of Beijing measured the distance to stars at the edge of the galactic disk and said that the disc stars were as far out as 31 kiloparsecs, or more than 100,000 light-years from the center.

This means that the galaxy's total width measures at about 200,000 light-years across, which is not much smaller than the 230,000 light-year diameter of our neighbor galaxy Andromeda, Popular Mechanics said.

The galaxies are roughly 2 million light years away, which is nothing in space terms.

Astronomers once thought Andromeda was as much as three times bigger than the Milky Way, but new research has suggested that is not the case.

Scientists have said that the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies will inevitably collide, however the good news is that the galactic crash won't happen for a few billion years.

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Estimates of the Milky Way's size could be off, according to a new study, which suggests that the galaxy could be twice as wide as astronomers thought.
milky way, width, double, estimates
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2018-26-14
Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:26 AM
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