In recent research, scientists have revealed that the Milky Way galaxy, known for its flat, disk-like shape, is beginning to curve.
This curvature primarily occurs at the galaxy’s outskirts, where some regions bend downward while others flare upward. Resembling a sombrero hat. Scientists, using computer simulations, have unraveled the cause behind this curvature, and they publish their remarkable findings on September 14 in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Providing Evidence of an Inclined Dark Matter Halo
The researchers in their study explaine, “These results, combine with data on the stellar halo, provide strong evidence that our galaxy is embed in an incline dark matter halo,” as reported by Live Science.
Dark matter is a mysterious and somewhat contradictory substance that constitutes 85% of the universe’s matter. It remains entirely invisible because it does not directly interact with light.
Dark matter’s existence is inferre through its effects, such as its ability to accelerate stars to inexplicable speeds as they orbit the galaxy’s center and bend distant starlight, forming the Milky Way’s halo.
The galactic halo is an extensive sphere of stars that floats like leaves on a pond of dark matter, position just beyond the Milky Way’s spiral arms.
Investigating the Irregular Halo Stars
In 2022, astronomers delve into this region using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft. They map the positions and movements of approximately 2 billion stars in the Milky Way. By examining Gaia’s data, they discovere that the stars hanging in the galactic halo were unexpectedly irregular.
To comprehend the significance of an uneven halo of stars within the incline dark matter halo. Researchers employe computer models to recreate a young Milky Way-like galaxy with a dark matter halo tilte 25 degrees to its disk.
After simulating the galaxy for 5 billion years, the researchers found that they create a galaxy strikingly similar to the Milky Way.
Implications of a Curving Milky Way
The discovery of the Milky Way’s curvature has profound implications for our understanding of the galaxy’s structure and its interaction with the enigmatic dark matter that surrounds it. This research not only sheds light on the hidden forces shaping our galaxy but also showcases the power of advance astronomical observations and computer simulations in unraveling cosmic mysteries.
As scientists continue to investigate and refine our knowledge of the Milky Way’s complex dynamics, we can look forward to gaining deeper insights into the nature of dark matter and its role in shaping the universe on both grand and minuscule scales.