September 9, 2015
The coolest Map of the Milky Way Galaxy ever made
By Mark Wachtler
September 9, 2015. Pasadena, CA. (ONN) A recent study from National Geographic revealed that half of all Americans can’t find New York state on a map of the US. So, we don’t know how interesting this article and map of the Milky Way Galaxy will be to our readers. But we were so impressed by the new map created by NASA, JPL and Cal Tech that we had to share it. If you ever wanted to know exactly where Earth and our solar system reside in our galaxy, check this out.
New technology and an effort to map the entire galaxy has resulted in the most detailed map of the Milky Way galaxy ever made. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL.
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The report from NASA this summer explained why this is the most detailed map of the Milky Way galaxy ever created, ‘Researchers have turned to a new mapping method that takes advantage of data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. Using WISE, the research team has discovered more than 400 dust-shrouded nurseries of stars, which trace the shape of our galaxy’s spiral arms.’
Astronomers have long known that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy containing billions of stars and solar systems. But it was only with the advancement of detection technology that our galaxy could be mapped out in extreme detail and crystal clear focus. What the data has revealed is that the Milky Way is flat like a pancake with four distinct large arms swirling out from the center, and more smaller arms branching off of the larger ones. It is on the edge of one of these faint arms that Earth can be found.
Our solar system’s Sun can be found just below the center of the galaxy. Map courtesy of the Huffington Post and NASA/JPL/CalTech/R. Hurt/SSC
The new map, the most detailed of its kind, revealed a couple other interesting results. First, researchers discovered a number of small, faint star clusters located just outside the previously known outer edge of the Milky Way. These were discovered because, unlike previous mapping attempts that zoomed in on specific areas of the galaxy, the WISE project examined the entire sky, creating the most detailed map ever. The result is shows the exact size and shape of the Milky Way.
Another somewhat surprising revelation is the age of the various stars, planets and solar systems that make up the galaxy. Conventional thought would suggest that like any spinning water sprinkler, the further away from the center the droplets are, the older they are. But astronomers associated with the study say the opposite is true in regard to the age of our neighboring stars. They paint a picture of the galaxy’s spiral arms circling the nucleus and collecting dust and other debris. Those collected particles eventually increase in mass and give birth to new stars. So, it’s along the outer arms where new solar systems are created, not the center.
The study’s lead researcher, Denilso Camargo from Federal University in Brazil, explained the phenomenon, “Spiral arms are like traffic jams in that the gas and stars crowd together and move more slowly in the arms. As material passes through the dense spiral arms, it is compressed and this triggers more star formation.”
For more information, visit JPL.NASA.gov.