Like all good stories, the history of our galaxy has a twist in the tail.
Researchers at Macquarie University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have shown how the Milky Way becomes increasingly “warped” the further it spreads out.
The team scrutinised hundreds of pulsating stars up to 100,000 times brighter than the sun to create a map which shows the real shape of our star system.
Macquarie’s Professor Richard de Grijis says the results are surprising.
“We usually think of spiral galaxies as being quite flat, like Andromeda which you can easily see through a telescope,” he says.
What the map shows, however, is that the Milky Way becomes progressively more twisted and spiral-shaped as it progresses.
It also confirms the cause: torque or spinning force generated by movement of the galaxy’s massive inner disc of stars.
The map will make it easier to measure distances from the sun and improve our understanding of the Milky Way’s outer reaches, as well as the origins of its inner core.
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