A research team has come up with the clearest map of the Milky Way. During the process of producing the map, the scientists have come to know that our solar system might be bigger than what was thought earlier.
Till now it is assumed that our galaxy is shaped like a disk, but there is no consensus on its exact structure. One thing on which scientists agree is that Milky Way has four major arms of star, gas and dust spiraling out from its center.
Our solar structure is present at the edge of the Local Arm or the Orion Spur. New details have been added with the help of a new study carried out by scientists from the Purple Mountain Observatory in China.
As per them, the Local Arm might be as big as the others. Study’s co-researcher Mark Reid from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said that the Local Arm is not given much importance owing to its size.
In the study, the researchers have taken the help of a series of radio telescopes in New Mexico known as the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). With this, the scientists were able to have precise measurements of gas clouds in the Milky Way’s arms.
The researchers have also used a star-measuring trigonometry method called parallax to measure the distances. Study’s co-researcher Ye Xu said that they have used radio telescope as they are able to look through the cosmic plane to large star-forming regions marking the spiral structure.
The study has concluded that Milky Way is not a spiral and there are distinct and clear-cut arms having different branches. “We found that there are a lot of massive star-forming regions in the Local Arm. So the Local Arm appears to be a pretty major structure in our Milky Way”.