It looks like the world is in the wrong place.
According to a new map of the Milky Way galaxy, the location of the solar system is not where we thought it would be. It’s not just near the galactic center – and in the middle of the gravitational hole, Sagittarius A * – it’s orbiting in a quick clip.
There is nothing to worry about; We’re not actually getting close to SGR A *, and we’re not in danger of slipping. Rather our map of the Milky Way has been adjusted, more accurately identifying where we were.
And the survey beautifully shows how complex it is to map three dimensions from the inside of a galaxy.
This is a problem that has plagued us for a long time. It is relatively easy to map two-dimensional coordinates of stars and other cosmic objects, but it is very difficult to determine the distances of objects.
And distances are important – they help determine the internal brightness of our objects. A recent example of this is the red giant star Betelzius, which came close to Earth according to previous measurement suggestions. Which means it’s about to be the most delusional time of the year, as well.
Another is Objects CK Volpeculi, a star that exploded 350 years ago. This is actually a long way off, which means that the explosion was brighter and more powerful and requires a new explanation, as previous analyzes assumed it to be relatively less powerful.
But as we get better at calculating those distances, surveys work hard to refine our three-dimensional map of our Milky Way using the best available technology and techniques known as astronomy. And one of them is the Vera Radio Astronomy Survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Vera, Japan.
Vera means VLBI (very long baseline interferometry) radio astrometry exploration and it uses many radio telescopes across the islands of Japan, combining their data into a telescope with the same resolution as 2,300 kilometers (1,430 miles). Using diameter dish. This is the same principle behind the Event Horizon Telescope that created our first direct image in the shadow of a black hole.
Vera, which began observation in 2000, is designed to help us determine the distances of radio emitting stars by calculating their parallax. With its incredible resolution, it has been observing these stars for more than a year and observing how their positions change compared to stars farther away from the Earth’s orbit.
This change in position can then be used to calculate how far away a star is from Earth, but not all parallax observations are created equally. VLBI can create much higher resolution images; Vera has a tremendous angular resolution of 10 million phases per arcsecond, which is expected to measure astronomy with extraordinary high accuracy.
And this is what astronomers have used to refine the position of our solar system in the Milky Way. Based on the first VERA astrology catalog of 99 objects published earlier this year and other observations, astronomers mapped the position and velocity of that object.
From this map they calculated the location of the galactic center.
In 1985, the International Union of Astronomy defined the distance from the galactic center as 27,700 light-years. Last year, Gravity Collaboration recalculated it and found it about 26,673 light-years away.
Vera-based measurements stabilize it at a distance of another 25,800 light-years. And the speed of the solar system’s orbit is also very fast – 227 kilometers (141 miles) per second, faster than the official speed of 220 kilometers (137 miles) per second.
This change may not seem like much, but it could have an impact on how we measure and interpret activity at the galactic center – in the end, hopefully, the more complex interactions around SGRA * lead to a more accurate picture.
Meanwhile, Vera’s collaboration continues. Not only does the Milky Way continue to observe objects, it joins the larger project, the East Asian VLBI Network. Together, the astronomers hope that the telescopes involved in this project can provide a measure of unprecedented accuracy.
The Vera Astrometry Catalog was published in 200. In Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan.