A new study by Chinese and Australian astronomers has developed the first accurate three-dimensional image of the world of the Milky Way's distorted appearance, showing that the galaxy's disk is not flat but warped and twisted away from the center.
The study was published online in the journal Nature Astronomy on Tuesday.
Many people believed that the galaxy would look like a flat disk of stars orbiting its central region, but the study's researchers found that the farthest regions of the galaxy are twisted and twisted, forming a three-dimensional structure.
Chen Xiaodian, the study's lead author and researcher at the National Astronomy Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said precise distances from the Sun to parts of the outer disk of the Milky Way were key to knowing what that disk looked like. .
The researchers established a robust galactic disk model based on 1,339 variable stars that are four to 20 times larger than the Sun, and up to 100,000 times brighter. These stars that provide high distance accuracy were used as primary distance indicators to develop a three-dimensional image of the galaxy intuitively and precisely.
From the 3D distribution map, the researchers found that the new derived star disk is deformed into a progressively twisted spiral pattern, with an S-shape.
The subsequent study validated that the morphology of the stellar deformation is in excellent agreement with that of the deformation of the galaxy.
"This new finding can help us to know the shape of the Milky Way and provide a key clue to understand how galaxies are formed and evolved, such as the Milky Way," said Deng Licai, co-author of the study.
(Top image through VCG)