There is only a small amount of information we know currently about our own galaxy, the milky way. For example, in the article, “New Mass Estimate for the Milky Way“, by Skyandtelescope, scientists still have not figured out if the neighboring Andromeda Galaxy is bigger or smaller than our own. There are two explanations for this controversy in determining the galaxy’s weight: 1. It is hard to take accurate measurements when humans are currently inhabiting it. 2. Due to dark matter, we can only measure a small portion of the actual mass encompassing the milky way. Astronomers have the main focus of looking at the stars inside the halo of our galaxy (which float to over 400,000 light years from our galaxy’s center). Dark matter, however, extends as far as 1 million light years away. The other obstacle involved is measuring out velocity, which requires observing an object’s motion which takes a long time due to stellar objects living for millions of years, as well as needing state-of-the-art telescopes like Hubble, which have only been around for a short amount of time. Good news: there has been a new method of observation that does not require information about the global cluster’s motion in the sky, which increased what has been measured by 60%. Astronomers have concluded that the Milky Way contains between 600 billion and 750 billion Suns’ worth of mass within 600,000 light-years.
This article goes hand in hand with our conceptual objective 15, “I can describe the structure and size of the Milky Way Galaxy”. In class, we learned that our galaxy is measured in distance of global clusters, which has been explicitly demonstrated in this article. Our galaxy’s center (nucleus) is made up of nebulas, and star clusters (constellations). Going outward from the center, there are arms that fade. There was a lecture tutorial titled, “Milky Way scale”, which showed us how big our galaxy is, and what contents lie inside. There are three main things that inhabit our galaxy: stars, planets, and black holes.
It is beneficial to know more about the space that us humans currently live in. Our galaxy is a large and interesting place that holds many things astronomers still have little information about such as black holes and dark matter. Ever since the new discovery of being able to measure gravity instead of light, scientists have been able to revamp many old theories and calculations in space, giving us more accurate information on what is going on that the naked eye cannot see. Overall, I enjoyed this objective and am looking forward to finishing up the last two.