Sunday, 17 February, 2019

The Milky Way’s outer disk may actually be warped and twisted

Milky Way is warped and twisted, not flat The Milky Way Is Not a Flat Disk—It's Actually 'Twisted' and 'Warped,' Study Finds
Frank Williams | 07 February, 2019, 15:56

Cepheids are big and bright young stars.

The researchers gathered 2,330 Cepheid variables catalogued by an infrared telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, and whittled down the list to 1,339 stars based on their distance, models of the Milky Way, and other factors. Classical Cepheids are 20 times more massive that the sun and as much as 100,000 times brighter.

Researchers in Australia and China have for the first time unveiled an accurate 3D map of the Milky Way galaxy.

Though past analysis has established that the hydrogen gas in our galaxy takes on a warped shape, questions have remained as to whether stars follow the same shape or not. According to Chao Liu, a study co-author and researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories, the warping seems to be caused by torque induced by the rotation of the inner disk of the galaxy.

"We would need to do (numerical) simulations of a realistic galaxy embedded in a dark matter halo to see if we can reproduce the observations and figure out how this came about", says de Grijs. The new data also add a literal twist to the story, showing that the warp precesses, or turns.

"It is notoriously hard to determine distances from the Sun to parts of the Milky Way's outer gas disk without having a clear idea of what that disk actually looks like", said Chinese Academy of Sciences astronomer Dr. Xiaodian Chen, lead author of the study.

Nissan backs out of major United Kingdom investment ahead of Brexit
However, earlier this week it confirmed a decision to move production to Japan . Nissan's plant in Sunderland is the biggest auto factory in the UK.

Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, makes for a pretty space picture, and it looks normal at a distance. Combined with a Cepheid's observed brightness, its pulsation period can be used to obtain a highly accurate distance.

This reminded the team of earlier observations of a dozen other galaxies which also showed such progressively twisted spiral patterns.

This undated image provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences shows the Artist's impression of the Milky Way. Astronomers from Macquarie University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used 1339 "standard" stars to map the real shape of our home galaxy in a paper published in Nature Astronomy today.

This is the mysterious invisible material that provides the gravitational "glue" that holds galaxies together.

"This new morphology provides a crucial updated map for studies of our galaxy's stellar motions and the origins of the Milky Way's disk", says Dr. DENG Licai, senior researcher at NAOC and co-author of the paper. They assumed that like the neighboring Andromeda, Milky Way is a neat flat disk with orderly spiral arms.

The resulting resource enabled the team to predict that the hydrogen gas in the outer reaches of the disk was not confined to a thin plane but would actually appear like a warped S-shape if observed from a distance.

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