It turns out, mapping the galaxy is a much more difficult job than anticipated, but using the light from Cepheid variable stars, which are stars that brighten and dim according to their size, we can pretty accurately tell distance. By using these stars, we can build a map of the distribution of stars in our galaxy...
So here's a 3D map of Cepheid variable stars, in our very own Milky Way galaxy, released in a survey done back in February. It reveals that the Milky Way isn't as flat as we thought, but rather a little bit warped or twisted. Although rare, it's far from unheard of to see a spiral galaxy with a wobble to it, and quite apparently our galaxy is among them.
Our galaxy is not flat, which means that a whole lot of art is out of date.
We don't know yet what caused the warping effect, could be a recent interaction or collision with another galaxy or even dark matter. At this point, it's still to early to tell.
"I guess you could say I'm a little twisted" - the Milky Way galaxy
@starwall yo, that's mindblowing info
Welcome to my twisted disc
I love you so much. You're amazing
@CornishRepublicanArmy ❤️ you are the objective best
@starwall "[...] or even dark matter" -> ah, the squirrels are at it again, distorting galaxies
@starwall Recent collision? I didn’t feel anything, did you?
@starwall I was just reading about Cecilia Payne and how much she laid the foundation for variable stars and generally astronomy
@Jewbacchus and Henrietta Swan Leavitt discovered correlation between size and period of the Cepheid variables, a discovery without which we wouldn't ever have known the true scale of the universe... or shape of the milky way for that matter.
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