How big is the Milky Way?



If you could travel at the speed of light and wanted to cross the Milky Way, it would last 200,000 years from start to finish.

Perhaps more, according to a new measurement made by astronomers from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (Spain).

It is not the first time that distances are measured on different astronomical scales, from our solar system to the universal plane.

And as instruments and techniques have been perfected, our galaxy has grown: first, 100,000 light years, then 160,000 and now the new record, which was published in an article in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

It is not easy to "look" to the other side. The solar system is about 26,000 light years away from the galactic center, almost half of what was considered the path between one end and the central area.

The new study showed that there are more distant stars, about three times that distance and that there could even be four times the separation between the sun and the center.

A light year equals nearly 10 billion kilometers.

To better understand these distances, it must be said that the Milky Way is an elliptical galaxy, with a flattened long disc and a central sphere or galactic core, as well as a spherical halo that surrounds it where few stars are.

The disk consists of spiral arms, in which a large part of the star population is concentrated.

To arrive at the new data, the scientists analyzed the abundance of metals, heavy elements, in the stars, that is, their metallicity.

When they look beyond what is considered the limit of the disc, they found stars with compositions similar to those of this one.

"We have shown that there is a considerable fraction of stars with a high metallicity, characteristic of that of the disk, beyond the previously assumed limit of the radius of the galaxy disk," he said. Carlos Allende, researcher of the Institute and co-author of the study.

This means that our solar system is not in the middle of the beam between the edge and the center, but much further inwards.

For the study, they were based on data from the galactic evolution experiment of Apogee and the Lamost spectroscopic telescope, allowing us to know the elements in a star.

In this expansion of the Milky Way there are between 100,000 and 400,000 million stars and about 100,000 million planets according to a study published in The Astrophysical Journal.

And while it seems huge, the Milky Way is only one of the galaxies of the universe and until recently it was believed to be the second of the Local Group of Milky Way galaxies of about 40 (connected by gravity) after Andromeda, with which it will merge in about 4,000 million years.

Information analysis of the Hubble Space Telescope suggests that there may be between 100,000 and 200,000 million galaxies in a huge universe.

A deduction that is made according to the perceptible movement of the universe.

This is about 13,800 million years ago since the Big Bang and since it has since expanded, it is estimated that today from one place to another, if it were to be achieved, the size would be 92,000 million light years.

So the 200,000 light years of the Milky Way that are now established are many and nothing at the same time.


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