The Size Of Milky Way Is 150,000 Light Years, A New Study Challenges The Previous Findings
Turns out, scientific eye is very critically looking at Milky Way. Just a couple of days ago, nine dwarf galaxies were spotted around Milky way. Now a new study establishes that size of Milky way is 150,000 light years as compared to, previously believed, 100,000 light years.
Considering the new findings, the galactic disk — plane of the galaxy which contain spirals, bars and discs and is made up of gas, dust and younger stars — is not plane but “corrugated” with multiple ripples.
On the course of their research, scientists reviewed data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, conducted in 2002. This survey supported that Milky Way has a complex structure. In this very survey, the researchers came across the discrepant rings of stars. The new study claims that these rings of stars are not separate from Milky way but are its ripples.
“In essence, what we found is that the disk of the Milky Way isn’t just a disk of stars in a flat plane–it’s corrugated,” Professor Heidi Jo Newberg, who led the study done at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, explained.
“As it radiates outward from the sun, we see at least four ripples in the disk of the Milky Way. While we can only look at part of the galaxy with this data, we assume that this pattern is going to be found throughout the disk.”
The research findings were published in a paper titled “Rings and Radial Waves in the Disk of the Milky Way,” in Astrophysical Journal. Lead author of the paper Yan Xu, a scientist at the National Astronomical Observatories of China, says:
“Going into the research, astronomers had observed that the number of Milky Way stars diminishes rapidly about 50,000 light years from the center of the galaxy, and then a ring of stars appears at about 60,000 light years from the center. What we see now is that this apparent ring is actually a ripple in the disk. And it may well be that there are more ripples further out which we have not yet seen.”
If you want to further explore the findings of the study, watch this video in which Professor Heidi Jo Newberg explains how the researchers concluded that galactic disk of Milky way is corrugated.