The Milky Way galaxy has been an important research topic for several decades, and a team of researchers has reached a new milestone. The scientists have managed to determine that our galaxy is considerably more significant than it appears at first sight, with new models suggesting that it has a size of almost 2 million light-years across.
This means that it is up to 15 times wider than the luminous spiral disk may infer, which is quite essential since it may improve future research related to other traits of the galaxy and nearby neighbors.
Previous research has mentioned that the brightest segment of the galaxy, which also has the shape of a pancake, has a length of 120,000 light-years across. A large disk of gas can be found beyond the visible one, stretching far beyond the limits of the first one. However, it is quite hard to spot since it does not emit any light, complicating any measuring attempts.
British Astronomers Spotted the Edge of the Milky Way Galaxy
A team of British researchers harnessed the data offered by the presence of nearby galaxies to calculate the limits of the Milky Way, with the results being quite impressive. For perspective, if the Milky Way would be located at the center of our planet, the edge would be at a distance that is four times higher than the one at which the moon resides in the present.
With the help of a series of advance simulations, the team learned more about the processes which contribute to the formation of massive galaxies like the Milky Way. A significant focus was placed on galaxies, which formed side by side, as is the case of the Milky Way and Andromeda, which exert a powerful gravitational pull.
Simulations have shown that stars can be found even in the distant corners of the galaxy, with the edge being quite sharp. More details can be found in a paper published in a scientific journal.