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Space & Astronomy

The Milky Way galaxy is 'warped and twisted'

By T.K. Randall
February 6, 2019 · Comment icon 8 comments

Our galaxy is not quite the way we imagine it. Image Credit: Chen Xiaodian / NAOC
A new study by a team of scientists in China has revealed that our galaxy is actually buckled at the edges.
When we think of the Milky Way, we tend to picture it as a perfectly flat disk, however in reality it becomes increasingly warped and twisted the further away from the center you look.

This is because, towards the edges, the hydrogen atoms that make up the majority of the gas disk are not as tightly bound to the thin galactic plane, thus causing them to buckle above and below it.

The findings were published recently in the journal Nature Astronomy by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC).
The research involved creating a detailed 3D model of the galaxy using a recently published catalog of classical Cepheids - a type of star for which reasonably accurate distances can be determined.

"In the Milky Way's outer regions, we found that the S-like stellar disk is warped in a progressively twisted spiral pattern," said Prof Richard de Grijs of Australia's Macquarie University.

This shape is similar to that of several other galaxies observed by astronomers.

"Combining our results with those other observations, we concluded that the Milky Way's warped spiral pattern is most likely caused by 'torques' - or rotational forcing - by the massive inner disk," added senior researcher and study co-author Dr Liu Chao.

Source: Sky News | Comments (8)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Taun 6 years ago
Some might think it's warped and twisted, but I think it's just misunderstood... and I wouldn't live any where else!
Comment icon #2 Posted by AllPossible 6 years ago
Makes sense, so are people on Earth...
Comment icon #3 Posted by MWoo7 6 years ago
We need better lines.  Where's the comedy crews backup relief squads when you need them eh?!??!?!  TAUN`S right, its not such a bad place. Personally until there's another rock found and first class ! lunar module tickets of course! and a complex/installation w/ hunky firemen and a fifth avenue with saks, this old rock will suffice.  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Vlad the Mighty 6 years ago
and aren't we all 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Nnicolette 6 years ago
So paired with the mysterious radio jet pointed our direction rather than what i would call vertically, does this mean it is twisting in the middle in a way it hadnt before? It would seem so if the material is mostly flat with a warp... Like its just begun to change.(in cosmic terms of course not our lifetimes)
Comment icon #6 Posted by bison 6 years ago
The galactic warp probably doesn't affect the central part of the galaxy. It warps at the edges because the weaker gravity there doesn't allow the plane of the galaxy to be as well-defined, as in its other parts. There may be something in the galaxy, between the center and our location, that causes the radio jet to be redirected, though it's difficult to see what could cause such a marked diversion  (~90 degrees). Perhaps the jet is reflected by something, though it would have to be quite an efficient reflector to create the observed effect. The reason we find other galaxies with radio jets ... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Sir Smoke aLot 6 years ago
We will never know for sure but there is fun part too, mystic part. Being placed where we are in the galaxy and considering how large the galaxy is it's hard to make good prediction of it's shape but it make scientists make new models, calculations... And many other discoveries are made in the process. Some flat Earth supporters dismiss other views because they haven't seen curvature from airplane. But compare that airplane with the size of the planet and you realize that you have to get much higher up to actually see the curvature. If i apply that to galaxy things get even harder to predict a... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Taun 6 years ago
I wonder if the warping and buckling could be caused by a "wobble" in the galaxys rotation? It would probably be largely undetectable to us, as each "wobble" would take thousands of years and the only way to detect it would be to notice odd movements of distant stars...

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