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Our Milky Way Galaxy weighs as much as 1.5 Billion Suns

We can finally know how much the road the milk wall weighs. Estimates of our home taxa booklet vary widely from about 500 billion times the sun's mass to 3 trillion suns. The number is so difficult to clamp, because about 85 percent of the Winter Whale's mass consists of dark matter – mysterious things that neither absorb nor emit light (hence the name). "We just can't detect ] dark matter directly," Laura Watkins, of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, said in a statement. "That's what leads to the current uncertainty in the Milky Way lots – you can't accurately measure what you can't see!" Related: Amazing Images of Our Milky Way Galaxy The global cluster NGC 4147, seen with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 4147 is about 60,000 light-years from Earth, in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. [Image: © TSohnetal / ESA / Hubble & NASA] So, Watkins and her colleagues came up with a solution that they reported in a new study. They measured the velocities of globular clusters, lumps of stars that orbit the well-known spiral disk of the milk (but are still part of our galaxy). "The more massive a galaxy, the faster its clusters are moved during the gravitational pull," study co-author N. Wyn Evans, of the University of Cambridge in England, said in the same statement . "Most previous measurements have found the speed that a cluster is approaching or returning from the earth – that is, the speed along our…

We can finally know how much the road the milk wall weighs.

Estimates of our home taxa booklet vary widely from about 500 billion times the sun’s mass to 3 trillion suns. The number is so difficult to clamp, because about 85 percent of the Winter Whale’s mass consists of dark matter – mysterious things that neither absorb nor emit light (hence the name).

“We just can’t detect ] dark matter directly,” Laura Watkins, of the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, said in a statement. “That’s what leads to the current uncertainty in the Milky Way lots – you can’t accurately measure what you can’t see!”

Related: Amazing Images of Our Milky Way Galaxy

The global cluster NGC 4147, seen with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. NGC 4147 is about 60,000 light-years from Earth, in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. [Image: © TSohnetal / ESA / Hubble & NASA]

So, Watkins and her colleagues came up with a solution that they reported in a new study. They measured the velocities of globular clusters, lumps of stars that orbit the well-known spiral disk of the milk (but are still part of our galaxy).

“The more massive a galaxy, the faster its clusters are moved during the gravitational pull,” study co-author N. Wyn Evans, of the University of Cambridge in England, said in the same statement .

“Most previous measurements have found the speed that a cluster is approaching or returning from the earth – that is, the speed along our point of view,” Evans added. “However, we could also measure the lateral movement of the gaps, from which total velocity and hence the galactic mass can be calculated.”

The number is 1.5 trillion solar masses (within 129,000 light years of the galactic center, to be specific). It is pretty much right in the middle of the area bounded by previous studies.

The team cited observations of two of the most powerful astronomical tools in operation – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Europe’s Gaia Spacecraft. Launched in December 2013, Gaia accurately measures the positions and movements of hundreds of millions of objects, helping scientists create the most detailed 3D map of the Milky Way ever constructed.

The team studied the movement of 46 global clusters, 34 of which Gaia was observed and 12 Hubble measured. The most distant of these star clumps is about 129,000 light-years from Earth, scientists said.

For perspective: The milk slice is about 100,000 light years wide.

Watkins is the lead author of the new study, which has been approved for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. You can read it for free on the online preprint page arXiv.org .

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “ Out There ” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate ) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .


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