(ORDO NEWS) — A research team made up of Chinese and foreign scientists has accurately measured the mass of the Milky Way, showing that it is about 550 billion times the mass of the Sun.
The results were recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The recently measured mass of the Milky Way is almost half the average measured by other research groups, which is about 1 trillion times the mass of the Sun.
“Our latest results suggest that the Milky Way may be ‘thinner’ than previously thought.
This means that there is much less nonluminous but gravitational dark matter in the galaxy than originally thought,” said Xue Xiangxiang, lead research team member and researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC).
Mass is critical to understanding the dynamics of the Galaxy, Xue says. However, there was a high uncertainty in its estimation due to limited observations.
In this study, scientists obtained results based on data from the Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope (LAMOST), China’s leading optical telescope, and the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite.
The large sample of spectroscopic data provided by LAMOST is one of the main advantages of this study compared to studies by other research groups, Xue said.
“The sample is not only large in number and scope, but also captures the three-dimensional (3D) position, 3D velocity and metal content of each star,” she added.
The research team consisted of scientists from China’s Three Gorges University, NAOC, Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and others.
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