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There is a Reason Why We are Warped

Posted by Guy Pirro 02/09/2021 05:13PM

There is a Reason Why We are Warped

When most of us picture the shape of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our own Sun and hundreds of billions of other stars, we think of a central mass surrounded by a flat disc of stars that spiral around it. But astronomers have known since 1957 that the Milky Way’s disc – where most of its hundreds of billions of stars reside – is not flat but somewhat curved upwards on one side and downwards on the other -- More like the brim of a fedora. And the warped edges seem to be constantly moving around the outer rim of the galaxy. For years, they have debated what could be causing this warp. They have proposed various theories including the influence of nearby galaxies, earlier galaxy collisions, and even the old favorite standby reason that is used to explain everything that we don’t know or understand about astronomy -- the venerable effects of an imaginary dark matter halo.


Comments:

  • vjpapa [John Paparelli]
  • 02/11/2021 08:50PM
Hello Guy,

Kudos to you again for another masterpiece of mystery!

As an amateur astronomer, I observe the universe as a very LONG movie in which I am essentially viewing none of its creation or workings. You, however, enhance this viewing with information that teases my curiosity and for that I sincerely thank you.

Sometimes I find it quite difficult to apply and follow through with the Scientific Method- this could be one of those "we are not suppose to know" moments. Maybe it's as simple as watching the slow motion harmonics of a child bouncing on a round trampoline or the sine wave of a plucked guitar string returning to its resting state.

Could it be that our galaxy collided with a much smaller galaxy- not enough to destroy its beautiful shape but just enough to create a little entropy in the form of a sine wave?

Always grateful,
John

John:

Thanks for the kind words.

I believe your scenario is the most likely reason that our galaxy is warped.

Check out this post from last year. It shows an edge-on image of Galaxy ESO 510-G13. This is what the Milky Way Galaxy probably looks like from a distance.

https://astromart.com/news/show/our-milky-way-galaxy-is-warped-and-vibrating-like-a-drum

Thanks,

Guy