Astronomers have discovered the edge of the Milky Way galaxy by using the movement of nearby galaxies to work out how large it really is. It measures a mind-boggling 1.9 million light years in diameter, and more than 15 times wider than the shining spiral disc part it is named after. There is a halo of invisible “dark matter” beyond the disc that is extremely difficult to measure since it emits no light. Read more for a video and additional information.
Durham University scientists measured the movements of objects around the Milky Way to figure out its edge and then used simulations of how large galaxies form, and found that at the “edge”, the velocity of other orbiting galaxies dropped sharply. Durham University’s Ali Deason and her team found this “drop” at around 950,000 light years out from the center of the Milky Way.
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- National Geographic (Author)
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- 324 Pages - 10/22/2019 (Publication Date) - National Geographic (Publisher)
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Here we have linked the boundary of the underlying dark matter distribution to the observable stellar halo and the dwarf galaxy population. There is great hope that future data will provide a more robust and accurate measurement of the edge of the Milky Way and nearby Milky Way-mass galaxies than the one we have presented here,” said Deason.