The three-dimensional map confirms the bent shape of our home galaxy, which was also noticed in other studies already. The background image represents a four-arm spiral galaxy model consistent with neutral hydrogen measurements in our Galaxy.
Our solar system is located within the disc and is about 27,000 light-years from the Galactic center.
The map showed that the galaxy's disk, far from flat, is significantly warped and varies in thickness from place to place, with increasing thickness measured further from the galactic center. A new 3-D map brings the contorted structure of the Milky Way's disk into better view, thanks to measurements of special stars called Cepheids, scientists report in the August 2 Science. These stars burn up to 10,000 times more brightly than the sun so they are visible from across the galaxy and through interstellar clouds of gas and dust. Researchers can measure the distance of a cepheid star with an accuracy of more than 95 per cent by using the star's pulsation patterns to determine its luminosity.
With the help of cosmic light fire Polish researchers have mapped the milky way very accurately. "Our map shows that the disk of the milky way is flat". The new map was formulated utilizing exact estimations of the distance from the sun to 2,400 stars called "Cepheid variables" dispersed all through the galaxy.
Richard de Grijs, an astronomer at Macquarie University and co-author on the Nature Astronomy study, said that both the previous study and the new study rely on Cepheids that sit on our side of the Milky Way.
"If we could see our galaxy from the side, we would clearly see its warp", Skowron told Gizmodo.
The locations of these cepheid stars illustrate the way the Milk Way's disk curves away from its centre in more detail and with more precision than ever before.
Skowron and her colleagues gathered together about 2,400 cepheid stars from the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment observations, as well as a few from other experiments like All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae and others that take in a lot of stars all at once by looking at the entire sky nightly.
The new map provides a larger-scale picture of our galaxy in more detail. "It is warped and twisted", said Dr. Przemek Mroz, an astronomer with the University of Warsaw's Astronomical Observatory. Warping may have happened through past interactions with satellite galaxies, intergalactic gas or dark matter- invisible material present in galaxies about which little in known'. "So this is the most "real" map of the Milky Way". The disk boasts a diameter of about 140,00 light years.
"This is the first time we can use individual objects to show this in 3D".
The researchers guessed that the clustered cepheids may have formed together, so they created a simulation of three waves of star formation to test that theory.