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Space & Astronomy

How much does the Milky Way galaxy weigh ?

March 11, 2019 | Comment icon 16 comments



It turns out that our galaxy's weight is fairly typical. Image Credit: Nick Risinger
Astronomers at NASA and ESA have come up with the most precise figure yet for the weight of our galaxy.
Using new data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, scientists have calculated that our galaxy has the equivalent mass of 1.5 trillion suns.

What's particularly interesting is that only a small percentage of this mass is made up of the things that we actually know about such as stars, black holes, nebulae and other observable phenomena.

The rest is made up of 'dark energy', a highly mysterious form of invisible, undetectable matter that science is still struggling to get to grips with.
"Although we cannot see it, dark matter is the dominant form of matter in the universe, and it can be weighed through its influence on visible objects like the globular clusters," the Hubble team writes.

"The more massive a galaxy, the faster its globular clusters move under the pull of gravity. Most previous measurements have been along the line of sight to globular clusters, so astronomers know the speed at which a globular cluster is approaching or receding from Earth."

"However, Hubble and Gaia record the sideways motion of the globular clusters, from which a more reliable speed (and therefore gravitational acceleration) can be calculated."



Source: Hubblesite.org | Comments (16)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by sci-nerd 3 years ago
Then they could just say that the Milky Way has the mass equivalent to 495 quadrillion Earth's. That's 495,000,000,000,000,000. Then people would still grasp it, but without screwing with facts about space.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 3 years ago
They'd they'd just say it "weighs as much as...." because a lot of people do not understand the distinction between mass and weight
Comment icon #9 Posted by MWoo7 3 years ago
  GGGGROANER ALERT:  Okay so what is a quarter pounder eh!?  No necessary instant reply I was just tossing that out there.  TOOOOOODLES!
Comment icon #10 Posted by sci-nerd 3 years ago
A nice lunch?
Comment icon #11 Posted by MWoo7 3 years ago
 Quarterpounder WITH CHEESE ! would be Apx.: 0.6 ounces; BOO! so it would take 16.5 to fill you up what a rip off ! Probably stick with the 3 milky ways.
Comment icon #12 Posted by sci-nerd 3 years ago
That's how myths are born. Changing facts to fit common concepts. What we need to do is make people curious about real facts. Not change them.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Impedancer 3 years ago
The chokolate bar? Hmm i would say 42 :-) ok i dont know the answer to this qestion and i wish i could have asked one of my relatives who passed resently about this he was a professor in thoretical physics.
Comment icon #14 Posted by MWoo7 3 years ago
HEY PASS THE CHOCO BUDDY! but only if it weighs a quarter pound.
Comment icon #15 Posted by spud the mackem 3 years ago
If it wasn't for Gravity all the stars and planets would fall to the bottom of the universe , and get squashed on top of each other .
Comment icon #16 Posted by Ell 3 years ago
A phenomenon was observed: that observation is a fact.   A phenomenon was interpreted: that interpretation is not a fact.


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