The Milky Way that shelters the Earth has less and less secrets for scientists. We now have the largest three-dimensional map of the galaxy thanks to an international team of scientists, the largest elaborated to date, as they have published in the journal ‘Science’.
Researchers have plotted this map in three dimensions that reveals the S-shaped structure of the combined star disk of the Milky Way. They have achieved this by measuring the distance from the Sun to thousands of stars.
«Our map shows that the Milky Way disc is not flat. It is deformed and twisted – he explains Przemek Mroz, from the University of Warsaw (Warsaw) -. This is the first time that we can use individual objects to display it in three dimensions ».
Until now, the understanding of the spiral shape and structure of our galaxy was based on indirect measurements of celestial landmarks and inferences based on other distant galaxies in the Universe.
The resulting Milky Way map produced by these limited observations it was incomplete.
Now, thanks to the classic Cepheids (massive stars hundreds and thousands of times brighter than our Sun) pulse at regular intervals and are visible through the vast clouds of interstellar dust that often obscure the less bright star bodies distances can be accurately determined.
The researcher at the University of Warsaw Dorota SkowronTogether with scientists from the Ohio State University (United States) and Ulaczyk from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, they traced the distance to more than 2,400 cepheids along the Milky Way, most of which were identified by the gravitational optical lens (GLE) experiment, a project that doubled the number of known galactic classical cepheids.
By assigning coordinates to each distant pulsating star in relation to our sun, researchers have finally achieved develop a three-dimensional model of the Milky Way of very high precision.