Scientists Discover Bigger, Faster Milky Way

Scientists revise image of our galaxy
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2009 2:42 AM CST
The latest view of the Milky Way by scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics shows our galaxy may not be the compact collection of stars astronomers long thought it to be.   (AP Photo/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Robert Hurt, Mark Reid)
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(Newser) – A study of the Milky Way using radio telescopes scattered across the US paints a new and dramatically different picture of our galaxy, reports Our spiral-shaped galaxy is not only spinning faster than previously thought, it has 50% greater mass, with two hitherto unknown spiral arms where many new young stars are being formed.

A team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used a system of 10 radio-telescopes stretching from Hawaii to New England and the Caribbean known as the Very Long Baseline Array to reconfigure our map of the galaxy. In a separate development, NASA released a striking new image that is the sharpest infrared view ever taken of the Milky Way's core.