Sunday, April 27, 2014

Milky Way's Structure Mapped in Unprecedented Detail

Live Science | Apr 25, 2014 | Katia Moskvitch.

The Milky Way arches over an old windmill near Paulden, Arizona.
Astrophotographer Sean Parker sent this image to on Dec. 30, 2013.
Credit: Sean Parker |
Astronomers are one step closer to solving a longstanding mystery — just what our Milky Way galaxy looks like.

It may seem odd that a comprehensive understanding of the Milky Way's structure has so far eluded researchers. But it's tough to get a broad view of the galaxy from within.

"We are fairly confident that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, but we don't know much in detail. At the most basic level, we'd like to be able to make a map that would show in detail what it looks like," said Mark Reid of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the new study.

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