THE MOST precise 3D map of our Milky Way galaxy has been revealed by astronomers.
The 3D Milky Way map was created using data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia space probe that’s been scanning the stars since 2013.
This is a 3D map of the Milky Way and all its moving starsCredit: ESA
The hope is that the map will shed new light on the workings of the galaxy we call home.
It allows astronomers to measure acceleration and hopefully find out how much the universe has expanded since the dawn of time.
An impressive 1.8 billion stars feature on the map.
The ESA unveiled the map and uploaded a mesmerising YouTube video of how stars move in the Milky Way.
The map can be used to measure acceleration in the solar systemCredit: ESA
The new 3D map was revealed just as another set of researchers claimed that Earth is closer to the black hole at the centre of our galaxy than previously thought.
The Milky Way has a huge black hole at the centre called Sagittarius A*.
Astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan used their own data collected over 15 years to create another Milky Way map.
They estimated Earth’s position relative to the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
This map showing the Milky Way’s galactic centre was made my researchers in JapanCredit: NAOJ
Back in 1985, Earth was thought to be 27,700 light years away from Sagittarius A*.
The new map puts it at 25,800 light-years away.
Scientists think Earth would be pulled apart inside a black hole but there’s no need to panic just yet.
25,800 light-years away is a huge distance so Earth won’t be anywhere near Sagittarius A* for a long time.
One light year works out at about six trillion miles.
Milky Way facts
Here’s some things you might not have known about our galaxy…
- The Milky Way is almost as old as the Universe itself with recently estimates suggestings that the Universe is around 13.7 or 13.8billion years old and the Milky Way is thought to be about 13.6billion years old
- the Milky Way is disk shaped and measures about 120,000 light years across
- It has a supermassive black hole in the middle called Sagittarius A*
- It contains over 200 billion stars
- It is thought to have an invisible halo made of dark matter
In other space news, strange ghostly circles spotted in space are baffling astronomers as they try to work out what they could be.
This year’s biggest meteor shower will reach its peak next week.
And, Nasa hopes to peer back in time using the James Webb Space telescope.
Are you impressed by the Milky Way map? Let us know in the comments…
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